Albie Sachs Collection

Known for his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle, and later his work as a Constitutional Court judge in democratic South Africa, Albie Sachs is also a passionate art collector. “I’m passionate when I acquire art, my heart beats wildly, whether it’s a Makonde sculpture bought at the roadside, a Malangatana painting purchased at his studio, or a Dumile Feni drawing found at the Malborough Gallery. I often feel sick afterwards at having spent so much money, but have never once regretted the acquisition.”

Sachs went into exile in 1966, first to England and then to Mozambique. While in exile, he took an active interest in the arts, acquiring some prized works, some of which he donated to the Constitutional Court. In addition, he also donated another body of works, collected while he was living in Mozambique, to the UWC-RIM Mayibuye Archives.

The Albie Sachs Collection of Mozambican Art comprises screenprints, linocuts, paintings and sculptures, including works by Malangatana Ngwenya, Alberto Chissano, Eugenio Lemos, Isabel Martins and artists from Cooperativa Nandimba. “In Mozambique,” says Sachs, “I immersed myself in the artist’s movement. Art was life, it was death, it was hope, it was despair. I particularly admired the painter Malangatana and the sculptor Chissano, both of whom had created distinctive art forms and became more famous in their country than football stars.”

In Maputo, Sachs was friends with many artists, acquiring some works directly from them. Others were acquired from art galleries and museums, along the roadside or at markets. His favourite work in the collection at UWC is a sculpture by Chissano with ten heads. “Indira Gandhi wanted it,” says Sachs, “but he had promised it to me… So Indira Ghandi didn’t get it. Albie Sachs got it.”

In 2012 the Albie Sachs Collection of Mozambican art was exhibited in the UWC Library, where it is still on view (2015). Curated by Emile Maurice, it was opened by Sachs during the “Não Vamos Esquecer? Dialogues on Mozambican History” conference, hosted by the CHR.