Sekoto, Gerard

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Sekoto, Gerard Gender: M
Jan Gerard Sekoto
born on 9 December 1913 at 05:00 (= 05:00 AM )
Place Botshabelo, South Africa, 25s42, 29e25
Timezone EET h2e (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 16°27' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 24°22 Asc.s_sagcol.18.gif 14°31'


South African artist and musician. He is recognised as the pioneer of urban black art and social realism. He has had exhibitions in Paris, Stockholm, Venice, Washington, Senegal as well as in South Africa.

As the son of a missionary, music was a part of his life, and he was introduced to the family harmonium at an early age.

In 1938 at the age of 25 he left for Johannesburg to pursue a career as an artist. He held his first solo exhibition in 1939. In 1940 the Johannesburg Art Gallery purchased one of his pictures; it was to be the first picture painted by a black artist to enter a museum collection. In 1942 he moved to District Six in Cape Town and in 1945 he moved to Eastwood, Pretoria.

In 1947 he left South Africa to live in Paris under self-imposed exile. The first years in Paris were hard, and Sekoto was employed as a pianist purely by chance at l’Echelle de Jacob (Jacob’s ladder), a trendy nightclub that had reopened for business after World War II. Here he played jazz and sang ‘Negro Spirituals’, popular French songs of the period and some Harry Belafonte. Music became the way that he could pay his living and art school expenses.

Between 1956 and 1960, several of Sekoto’s compositions were published by Les Editions Musicales. Sekoto played piano and sang on several records. He composed 29 songs, mostly excessively poignant, recalling the loneliness of exile, yet displaying the inordinate courage of someone battling to survive in a foreign cultural environment.

In 1966 he visited Senegal for a year.

Sekoto's paintings became political in the 1970s due to apartheid in his home country. In 1989 the Johannesburg Art Gallery honoured him with a retrospective exhibition and the University of Witwatersrand with an honorary doctorate.

He died on 20 March 1993 at a retirement home outside Paris.

Link to Wikipedia biography


Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes N. C. Manganyi, "Gerard Sekoto: 'I Am an African': A Biography" (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2004), p. 5: "A little more than two years later, on 9 December 1913, a second son was born at five in the morning on the day of a church synod. They named him Jan Gerard, but later he would come to be known by his second name, as well as by the nickname Senote, derived from the coincidence of his birth with that important event in the church year."


  • Vocation : Art : Fine art artist (painter)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Instrumentalist (pianist)