Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Blue head
Lot 409*
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) Blue head
Sold for £12,000 (US$ 20,074) inc. premium
Lot Details
Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993)
Blue head
signed 'G Sekoto' and dated '62' (lower right)
oil on composition board
61 x 49.5cm (24 x 19 1/2in).


  • In 1960 Sekoto made a portrait drawing of Miriam Makeba, who had just arrived in New York as the lead role in the musical production ‘King Kong’. Makeba was interviewed and featured in the February 1960 issue of Time magazine.

    It is not known if the Blue Head series of portraits which were commenced in 1960 were partly inspired by Sekoto’s awareness of Makeba’s instant fame, but certainly his desire to portray people of African origin with innate dignity and beauty is clearly stated by him to Barbara Lindop in a series of letters during the 1980’s. This particular Blue period lasted until 1965 and forms a coherent and identifiable stylistic body of work.

    However Sekoto was always a distinguished portraitist and some of his finest portraits date as early as 1940 right up to his old age in 1987. His deeply felt sense of humanity and awareness thereof relates to the African philosophical tenet of Ubuntu - loosely translated as Man is Man because of Man.

    The illustrious author and humanitarian Ezekiel Mphahlele bought one of the Blue Head portraits in Paris in the mid 1960’s during his exile. Mphahlele refers to the Blue Head in his autobiography Africa my Music, and describes the iconic value this painting held for him as he endured exile and its miseries.

    "Those heads do not easily express themselves to a foreigner or even amongst themselves - each one's own a state to herself. Hence even that twinkle of irony" (the artist, as quoted in B. Lindop, Gerard Sekoto, Randburg, 1988, pg. 214).

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