This site was started in May 2018 and I depend on viewers to help me keep it updated – a Ernest Mancoba-pedia if you like!

I am a freelance curator and researcher.  In 2017 I enjoyed a research fellowship at the Van Abbe Museum looking at one aspect of Mancoba’s career, his relationship with CoBrA, the post-WWII European art movement.  In doing my research I found it very difficult to find images of Mancoba’s work, or at least an organised and comprehensive-enough “library” for me to do my research.  It made me think that other researchers might have the same problem and thus this project/site serves as Appendix 2 to my Van Abbe Museum research paper and a public site for those interested in Mancoba’s artwork.

This project/site does not profess to be even close to being a Catalogue Raisonné.  Instead it is drawn from my research notes with images courtesy of the sources cited.  I am grateful for the support of the individuals, museums and galleries who helped me with my research and allowed use of the images, and I would be further grateful for any contributions that improves the information provided here.  Towards that end I have made this project/site a “blog” so that you may feel free to comment – I would only ask for common professional courtesy in your responses to all posts and I will act as moderator to remove any I think is not in the collaborative spirit of this project.

Using the site: I have categorised the images roughly into 4 categories:

  • artworks made when Ernest Mancoba was still living in his birth country, South Africa, up to 1938.  You’ll see these were all wood carvings.  The whereabouts of many of the works – let alone images – are unknown.
  • artworks when Mancoba first moved to Europe in 1939 through mid-1950s.  This was a period of great artistic change for Mancoba, not just in materials – he continued carving but also started making drawings (following the Surrealist “automatic” technique) and paintings – but also in form.  One can see the influences of his birth culture with his interest in European/Western art.
  • From 1950s to mid/end 1980s, the form of Mancoba’s artwork was fairly consistent, a central “figure”, albeit abstracted, surrounded by colour fields.  This is typically referred to as his “mature” style
  • After working in his “mature” style for around 3 decades,  Mancoba changed the form to a “late” style.  The central figure appears to have fully dissolved into abstract marks, organised as multiple calligraphic icons.

Technical notes: I’m not a web designer and I’m grateful for the free Theme run on WordPress; if there are technical issues, please point them out to me and I’ll try my best to sort it.


Winnie Sze