Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary African Art


Ouattara Watts
B. 1957
signed and dated 1993 (on the reverse)
wooden sculpture, mixed media
295.91 by 256.54cm., 116½ in by 101in.
Executed in 1993
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Cavaliero Fine Arts, New York (acquired from artist in 1993)
Acquired from the above by present owner in 2015


Venice, Fusion: West African Artists at the Venice Biennale, June 1993
New York, The Museum for African Art, 1994


Thomas McEvilley, Fusion: West African Artists at the Venice Biennale, The Museum for African Art, New York and Prestel, Munich, 1993, illustrated p. 75 & 79.
Adi Martis; Mieke Rijnders, Expressionisme en primitivisme in de beelden Kunst van de twintigste eeuw, Open Universiteit, Heerlen, 1998; illustrated p. 234. Cited p. 233 & 234.

Catalogue Note

Masada is a large-scale mixed media by Ivorian artist Ouattara Watts (b. 1957) known for his paintings exploring African cosmology. Watts’ love for jazz, alchemy, cosmos, human relationships, and numbers are common themes in his work.

This large mixed media work was made shortly after Watts moved to New York, following an encounter with Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artists met in 1988 at Basquiat’s exhibition opening in Paris, and Basquiat insisted on visiting Watt’s studio, where he bought a painting that night. Basquiat was a keen supporter of Watt’s work and convinced him to move to New York, where they worked together briefly before Basquiat’s death.

On their shared interest Watts writes, ‘Like Keith[Haring] and Jean-Michel, the spiritual side keeps me going, it’s a way of being and living. The human relationships, that of the artist and the cosmos. Jean-Michel exhibited work in the Ivory Coast in 1986 [in Abidjan, at the French Cultural Centre] and that was my parent’s region. And I think it was here that he saw this spiritual side in me’. (Clotilde Scordia, ‘Ouattara Watts: Mystical Storyteller’, Happening, 2015)

Ouattara Watts has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, the Whitney Biennale, and the New Museum in New York, Magazzino d’Arte Moderna, Galeria Leyendeker, The Hood Museum of Art, Leo Koenig Gallery, Baldwin Gallery, The Kemper Museum, Gagosian Gallery, and Documenta in Kassel, Berkeley Museum, to name a few.

Modern and Contemporary African Art