The Jean Pigozzi African Art Collection

Dakpogan Calixte

Born 1958, Pahou, Benin
Lives and works in Porto Novo, Benin

Calixte Dakpogan’s Vodun heritage is intrinsic to his work. Born to a family of blacksmiths, he grew up in the Goukoumé district of Porto Novo, Benin, a district dedicated to Ogun, the god of iron. Ogun is the principal deity worshiped by the Dakpogan family, and the tradition of metalworking has been carried from father to son since their ancestor Sabgo Ayato worked as a blacksmith in the royal court of King Toffa.

The abundance of car wreckages in Porto Novo has provided Calixte Dakpogan with an inexhaustible source of materials. (A symbol of power, the automobile is rightly placed under the protection of god Ogun.) Together with his brother Théodore, he began to use scavenged car parts to create standing figures, following directly in the tradition of Fon statues made from scrap iron in the early nineteenth century. In 1992 the two brothers were commissioned to create a series 100 of these works for Ouidah 92: The First International Festival of Vodun Arts and Cultures, and their contribution remains on permanent display. Today, after an interval of one and a half centuries, the relationship between Fon sculptures and the work of Calixte Dakpogan transcends purely visual or technical aspects, being intimately related with the creative process.

Since 1990, Calixte has worked independently, using salvaged metallic and plastic elements to create anthropomorphic figures and masks. A gas tank becomes a body or headlights become teeth. Two formless segments become a recognizable personage. His creations, full of talent, humour, and stories, are imbued with a contemporary imagination and an astounding inventiveness. The artist has commented: “I love children. They are very important in my work as they talk to me about what they see and make comments that inspire me profoundly. All of my sculptures speak of my country, my culture, my surroundings and my beliefs, as well as of the entirety of my worldview. I work with recovered materials since they are burdened with time and transformed by usage, conferring a degree of vitality upon my sculptures that I would be able to attain if I used new materials.”


Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier. Les Initiés, un choix d’œuvres (1989 – 2009) dans la collection d’art africain contemporain de Jean Pigozzi. Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France (04/26/17 to 09/04/17)

Essentiel Paysage, Al Maaden Art Gallery, Contemporary African Art Center, Marrakech, Morocco

1:54 Contemporary African Art fair, New York, USA

Luminós/C/ity.Ordinary Joy: From the Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection, Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions, Museu Picasso, Barcelona

Raw Vision : 25 ans d’Art Brut, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris

Riad Al Maaden, Marrakech, Morocco

Reconfiguring an African Icon : Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three
Continents, Metropolitan Museum, NY, USA

African Stories
Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech

2009 - 2010
Africa? Una nuova storia, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Why Africa?
Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli
Turin, Italy

Masques rituels et contemporains, Fondation Jean Paul Blachère, Apt - France

100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

Arts of Africa, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco - France

African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, Museum of Fine Art Houston, USA

Fait Maison, Permanent sculpture inaugurated on November 10, 2000, Musée International des Arts Modestes Sête, France

Partage d’Exotismes, 5ème Biennale de Lyon, France

Rendering Visable : Contemporary Art from the Republic of Benin
The October Gallery

1998 – 1999 (travelling exhibition
Forjar el Espacio : La Escultura Forjada en el siglo XX

* Nov - Feb 1998
Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
* April 1999
IVAM Centre Julio González
Valencia - Spain
* 26/06/99 – 30/09/99
Musée des Beaux Arts et de la Dentelle
Calais – France

Bénin-/Bénin, Gisteren-Tussen-Morgen
Van Reekum Museum, Apeldoorn Galerie 20x2
Arnhem – Hollande

Triennale der Kleinplastik (7): Afrika-Europa, Les Écoles philosophiques.
Stuttgart Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen
SüdwestLB Forum
Stuttgart - Germany

8+1, Centre Culturel Français, Cotonou - Benin

Lumière Noire, Centre d'Art de Tanlay-Yonne
Yonne - France

Johannesburg Biennale (1), Africus.
Johannesburg, South Africa,
February 28-April 30, 1995 (Catalogue: Allen Bowyer et al.)

1994 (travelling exhibition)
Otro país: escalas africanas.

* November 15, 1994-January 15, 1995
Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno
Las Palmas, Spain:
* February 15-April 16, 1995
Fundacion La Caixa
Palma de Mallorca. Spain
* May-September, 1995
Palau de la Virreina
Barcelona, Spain
* (Catalogue: Simon Njami and Joëlle Busca)

Ouidah 92. The First International Festival of Vodun Arts and Cultures.
Ouidah, Benin

Dakar Biennale (1) Dak’Art 92
Dakar, Senegal:
(Catalogue: Moustapha Ka and Amadou Lamine Sall)

Calixte Dakpogan, Centre Culturel Français
Cotonou, Benin.


Ex Africa - Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac - Sous la direction de Philippe Dagen - Gallimard, Paris

Les Initiés, un choix d’œuvres (1989 – 2009) dans la collection d’art africain contemporain de Jean Pigozzi. Editions Dilecta, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France. Exhibition catlaogue

Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions, Exhibition catalogue, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, pgs 74-77.

Why Africa?
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Electa & Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli.

100% Africa
Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.

Rendering Visible : Contemporary Art from the Republic of Benin
Exhibition catalogue. Published by The October Gallery.

Lyon Biennale d’Art Contemporain (5) Partage d’Exotismes
Exhibition catalogue. Thierry Prat, Thierry Raspail, and Jean-Hubert Martin.

Forjar el Espacio : La Escultura Forjada en el siglo XX
Exhibition catalogue.

Bénin-Bénin, Gisteren-Tussen-Morgen.
Exhibition catalogue. Fritz Bless et al.

Lumière Noire : Art Contemporain
Exhibition catalogue. Underwitten by the French Connection.

Contemporary Art of Africa
André Magnin and Jacques Soulillou eds.,

Africus : Johannesburg Biennale 1995
Exhibition catalogue. Contributors include Rasheed Araeen; Ery Camara; Arthur C. Danto; Bongi Dhlomo; Rashid Diab; Amareswar ...

Otro pais: escalas africanas
Exhibition catalogue. Simon Njami and Joelle Busca. Published by Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Fundacion La Caixa in Palma de Mallorca.

Dakar Biennale (1). Dak’Art 92
Exhibition catalogue : Moustapha Ka and Amadou Lamine Sall).