Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002) was born and raised a black man under the South African apartheid system. In 1938 he moved to Paris to be able to study and, as he later wrote in a text for the Danish artist Ejler Bille's 90th birthday, to work, and especially think, freely as an artist. In Paris, Mancoba met with the Danish artists' colony and soon joined the CoBrA circle. In 1942, he married the Danish artist, Sonja Ferlov Mancoba. They both showed at Høstudstillingen in Copenhagen in 1948 and 1949.

Ernest Mancoba's work represents a unique synthesis of modern European art and African spirit. His goal was to bring to European art his deep understanding of African culture, represented by the frequently appearing totems in his drawings and paintings that reflect the umuntu philosophy he so often referred to: A human is a human by and for other people. After the end of apartheid, Mancoba was honoured with large retrospectives at the National Gallery in Cape Town and the Museum of Modern Art in Johannesburg.



1938-1941 École Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris

Selected Exhibitions

2015 The Avant-Garde Won’t Give Up: Cobra and Its Legacy, Blum & Poe, NYC
2014 EWS, Stevenson gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 EWS, Galerie Mikael Anderen, Copenhagen
2001 El tiempo de Africa, La Sala de Plaza de España, Madrid
El tiempo de Africa, C.I.T., Las Palmas de Canaria
1993 Choix d’estampes – Cobra, Paris
Retour sur Cobra, Galerie Artcurial, Paris
Images of Africa, Vejle Kunstmuseum, Denmark
1989 Images of Wood, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
1988 Cobra – 40 years later, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
The neglected Tradition, Johannesburg, South Africa
Cobra is my mirror, Odense, Denmark
1986 Den Globale Dialog, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
1984 Cobra Movement, Caracas, Venezuela
1982-83 Cobra Retrospective, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris
1977 Ernest Mancoba, retrospective exhibition touring to Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen; Fyns Stifts Kunstmuseum, Odense and Silkeborg Kunstmuseum, Silkeborg, Denmark
1972 Den Frie Udstilling, Copenhagen
1969 Ernest Mancoba, Kunstmuseums in Holstebro and Århus
1951 Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Grethe Inge Pedersen and Ernest Mancoba, Galerie Birch, Copenhagen
1950 Became a member of Cobra
1949 Cobra, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam – was invited, but differences of opinion within the Høst-movement prevented participation
The Høst Exhibition, Copenhagen
1948 The Høst Exhibition, Copenhagen