The thriving world of African art is rich with immensely talented creators. The continent of Africa has housed some of contemporary art’s most meaningful works, with famed artists like Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian forging an enormous impact on the genre. As a painter and beloved art teacher, Boghossian remains one of the most influential of African artists, even a decade after his passing. Collectors of African art, like Tunde Folawiyo and other art enthusiasts throughout the globe, may regard the works of Boghossian as some of the most moving of all African art works.
Born in Addis Ababa on 22 July 1937, Boghossian’s parents were of Armenian and Ethiopian descent. His father was an active participant in a resistance against Italy’s occupation, later becoming imprisoned as Boghossian was but a small child. Later, the painter was taught the art of Ge’ez script while attending kindergarten. During his primary/secondary schoolings, Boghossian received teachings by foreign tutors from Ethiopia and beyond. From this, he would acquire a fluency in several language including English, French, Amharic and Armenian. After studying art genres informally while attending Teferi Mekonnen, he began studying under watercolor painter Stanislas Chojnacki.
Throughout his career, Boghossian was awarded many esteemed prizes. He won second place at Haile Selassie’s Jubilee Celebration during 1954. The following year, he acquired a scholarship to study abroad in Europe. With this, he spent over two years working and studying in London. After working at Slade School and Central School, Boghossian made the move to Paris where he would spend nine years teaching and studying. He ventured back home in 1966, teaching for Addis Ababa’s Fine Arts School until 1969. The artist became the first of Africa’s contemporary artists whose works were purchased by a leading institute in Paris during 1963. Three years later, New York’s Museum of Modern Art would acquire his famed painting, titled Juju’s Wedding, in 1964. Today, his creative works are housed in the permanent collections of several popular art institutions around the globe, including cities like Harlem, Washington D.C., New York and Paris. Beginning in 1972, he taught at Howard University before retiring from teaching in 2001.
Boghossian’s cultural impact remains as the millions who have beheld his moving works continue to be inspired. Tunde Folawiyo and others throughout Africa may regard his paintings as some of the most significant to have stemmed from the continent. With his achievements ever cemented in African history, the works of Boghossian will ever contribute to new eras of thrilling African art.