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Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes (1926–2009) By Stephenson, Jessica

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM910-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 23 May 2024, from


Cecil Skotnes (b. 1926, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa; d. 2009, Cape Town, South Africa) was a print-maker, woodcarver, and educator who played a lead role in the mid to late 20th-century South African art world. Together with other young artists of the 1960s, Skotnes forged an art style with a distinctive, regional identity as well as ties to international modernism. In addition, he was a founding member of the non-racial Amandlozi Group; however, it was his role as art teacher and advocate at the Polly Street Art Centre in Johannesburg from 1952 until 1966 that was of paramount significance. Through his efforts, a generation of black urban artists were trained and were afforded a network and the patronage needed to pursue professional careers. At the time, the Polly Street Art Centre was one of the only institutions that offered black South Africans access to education in modern art media such as painting, graphics, and sculpture. Skotnes’s successful promotion of young artists in the 1950s and 1960s made Polly Street a model for other community centers that arose in the 1970s and 1980s, and many of its graduates went on to found or direct community projects such as the Community Arts Project in Cape Town and Funda in Johannesburg.

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Citing this article:

Stephenson, Jessica. Cecil Edwin Frans Skotnes (1926–2009). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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