Born in 1935 in Dakar.
Ousmane Sow began sculpting as a child, but went on to practise as a physiotherapist. Only at the age of fifty did he decide to devote himself wholly to sculpture.
He strives to represent Man. Working in series, he has focused on the ethnic groups of Africa, then America. His art –inspired by photography, cinema, history and ethnology – exudes an epic quality that was thought lost. Fundamentally figurative, yet reflecting a concern for truth far removed from realism, his outsized effigies are sculpted without models. These figures have the power of a successful blending of great Western statuary and African ritual.
With his Nouba, which burst on the scene in the mid-’80s, Ousmane Sow put the soul back into the body of sculpture, and Africa in the heart of Europe.
Switching continents, he paid tribute in his work on the Battle of Little Big Horn, to the last warriors.
From the tribes of Africa to the native Indians of America, he seeks the fluid lines of these standing men – as if he were offering these proud, aesthetically-aware nomad ethnic groups the mirror image of the sedentary art they lack: sculpture.
The artist came to prominence in 1987 at the French Cultural Centre in Dakar when he showed his first series of Nouba wrestlers. Six years later, in 1993, he exhibited at the Dokumenta in Kassel, Germany; and then, in 1995, at the Palazzo Grassi, for the centenary of the Venice Biennale.
His exhibition on the Pont des Arts in spring 1999 attracted more than three million visitors.
His work has since been shown at around twenty venues, including the Whitney Museum in New York.