Skunder Boghossian was a painter from Ethiopia who played an important role in presenting European modernist styles in Africa and who, as a longtime resident of the United States, became one of the most famous African contemporary painters in the West.
Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian was born in Addis Ababa in 1937 into the family of an Ethiopian mother and an Armenian father. He received a scholarship from the Ethiopian government in 1965, which allowed him to study in London at Saint Martin’s School of Art, as well as the UCL Slade School of Fine Art.
In 1957, he moved to Paris. Since 1966, he studied and taught at the National School of Fine Arts and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. After returning to Ethiopia, he taught for three years at the School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa.
Boghossian then became an extraordinary professor of painting at Howard University in Washington D.C. Some of his Ethiopian students studied there as well. Since 2000, Boghossian has once again devoted himself to painting. He would soon pass away, however. On May 4, 2003, he died at the age of 65 in Washington D.C.
In 1984, Boghossian was awarded the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid Certificate of Appreciation.
Skunder Boghossian was one of the most famous contemporary artists in the world, and his works continue to be displayed at many international exhibitions. He was the first Ethiopian artist to sell his works at the Paris Museum of Modern Art and at the New York Museum of Contemporary Art. A set of his works was bought by the Smithsonian Institution in 1992.