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Famed Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow dead at 81

Senegal

<p>Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, considered one of the giants of African art has died in Dakar, aged 81.</p> <p>Sow spent most of his adult life between Dakar and Paris, where he first moved when he was 22.</p> <p>Famed for his monumental sculptors of Nubian wrestlers, he produced a series of striking bronzes of muscular African men. </p> <p>The series included “The Massai”, “The Zulus” and “The Fulani” and were widely exhibited in France and at the prestigious Documenta festival in Germany as well as in Venice Biennale. </p> <p>Sow also sculpted the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela as a goalkeeper, an image of which he said “he extends his hand to keep corrupt African heads of state at bay”.</p> <p>Born in Dakar in 1935, the former physiotherapist, only began working seriously as an artist at the age of 50. </p> <p>Although he sculpted imposing creations, he is said to have done that without the use of a model.</p> <p>Sow’s fascination for the human body developed when he enrolled at a physiotherapy school while living in the French capital. </p> <p>His knowledge of muscles and the human anatomy featured prominently in his creations.</p> <p>The late artist is famously quoted as saying: “I could be blindfolded and still make a human body from head to toe.”</p> <p>Sow held his first exhibition in Dakar following Senegal’s independence from France in 1960. </p> <p>Commenting on Sow’s death, Senegal’s Culture Minister, Mbagnick Ndiaye said: “The fact that his works were shown all over the world proved that he was a giant of culture. It is a real loss.”</p> <p>Sow captured Europe’s attention in 1999 with his giant sculptures of wrestlers exhibited on the Pont des Arts bridge near the Louvre in Paris.</p> <p>He became the first African to be admitted to the French Academy of Fine Arts – one of France’s five creative “académies” in December 2013, replacing American painter Andrew Wyeth.</p> <p>He had been ill for some time before his death.</p> <p>“He has taken with him all the dreams and projects that his body was too tired to finish,” said a family member to <span class="caps">AFP</span>.</p>
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