View to Africa View to Africa
View to Africa
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv
Photo: Eberhard Haase


21. February 1999 – 18. April 1999

Coffins from Ghana       

Gallery Bittner & Dembinski

An onion for a plantation owner, a Mercedes-Benz for a successful businessman: the colorfully painted, figurative wooden coffins that Ghanaian artist Kane Kwei produced in the early 1950s are still being made in the family workshop by his nephews and sons after his death in 1992. They have attracted great attention far beyond Africa, even among art collectors and art lovers.

Kane Kwei, born in 1927 in the southern region of Accra, was a member of the Gha people, a religious community which, despite missionary work, keeps the traditional customs of their ancestors alive and worships natural gods and ancestors. Thus, death is also present in the daily life of the Gha. In honor of the deceased, lavish feasts are celebrated and elaborate funeral rituals are performed, which put many of the bereaved into debt for the rest of their lives. The realistic, colorfully painted coffins have their place here, as well.

The relatives hereby express their wish that the deceased may be received benevolently in the world beyond, in the world of their ancestors, so that they may receive blessings and help on the plane of earthly existence. "The coffin as a symbol refers to what is socially connected with the deceased: Prestige, wealth, clientele, well-being." (André Magnin, exhibition catalog Wie das Leben, so der Sarg ("Like Life, Like Coffin), 1996)

The exhibition shows works by contemporary African artists from the Dr. Kleine-Gunk Collection. The Museum for Sepulchral Culture presents eight coffins from the collection of the artist Kane Kwei and his nephew Paa Joe, which will be on display in Germany for the first time.

Dr. Kleine-Gunk spent many years on the African continent as a development worker and traveler and has built up an outstanding collection of this kind of art, which underlines his close friendship with many of the artists.


facebook youtube instagram

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz