Summary biography:

  • 1904, born just outside Johannesburg, South Africa
  • studied at Grace Dieu, Anglican missionary church school; besides learning to become a teacher, this is where Mancoba first learned how to carve
  • studied journalism at Fort Hare University but dropped out to become an artist
  • 1935, moved to Cape Town; met Irma Stern and Lippy Lipshitz who encouraged Mancoba to be an artist – Lipshitz introduced Mancoba to the book “Primitive Negro Sculptures” (1929) which Mancoba cited as a major reference for the rest of his life
  • 1938, moved to Paris (via London); met Danish artists Ejler Bille and Sonja Ferlov and other European artists
  • 1940, interned during the war for being a British citizen.  Whilst still interned, married Sonja Ferlov in 1942.  Wonga, their only child was born 2 years after Mancoba’s release in 1946.
  • 1947, moved to Denmark; through Bille and Asger Jorn, met CoBrA artists
  • 1952, moved back to France eventually re-settling in Paris
  • 1994, re-visited his birth country for the first time since his departure on the occasion of a retrospective at the Johannesburg Art Gallery curated by historian & Mancoba’s biographer Elza Miles
  • 2002, passed away in Paris

For a more comprehensive biography, please refer to Elza Miles’ “Lifeline out of Africa”