Pigozzi first started collecting African art in 1989, after seeing the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre in Paris. In the ensuing decades, with single-minded vision, dedication, and passion, he assembled, with the help of curator André Magnin, one of the largest privately held collection of African contemporary art in the world today, the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC).
The Museum of Modern Art announced in July 2019 a major gift of 45 works of African contemporary art from the prolific collector Jean Pigozzi. The gift includes a selection of sculptures by Romuald Hazoumè (Beninese, born 1962) and Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congolese, 1948–2015); paintings by Moké (Congolese, 1950–2001) and Cheri Samba (Congolese, born 1956); an extraordinary group of photographs by artists such as Seydou Keïta (Malian, 1923–2001), Ambroise Ngaimoko/Studio 3Z (Congolese, born Angola. 1949), and Jean Depara (Congolese, born Angola. 1928–1997); drawings by the mystic Gedewon (Ethiopian, 1939–1995) and Abu Bakarr Mansaray...(Sierra Leonian, born 1970); and one of the landmark works of the 20th century: Alphabet bété (1991), a pictographic alphabet of 449 syllables by Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivorian, 1923–2014) that the artist hoped would be a new tool for universal communication. This gift makes MoMA a unique institutional leader in this aspect of contemporary African art.