Paris - Senegal's Ousmane Sow, who sculpted Nelson Mandela as a goalkeeper extending his hand "to keep corrupt African heads of state at bay", was on Wednesday honoured in his adoptive France.
At a ceremony in Paris, Sow - the first African to be invited to join France's Academy of Fine Arts - dedicated the honour to "all of Africa, its diaspora and the great man Nelson Mandela".
A minute's silence was observed for anti-apartheid hero Mandela who died last Thursday and is to be buried on Sunday.
The 78-year-old Sow captured the world's attention in 1999 when his muscular, larger-than-life sculptures of wrestlers were exhibited on a Paris bridge near the Louvre.
He is considered one of Africa's foremost artists.
In June 2013, he inaugurated a retrospective in Besancon in eastern France which was to be his last exhibition here before moving all his works to a museum he is building in his home country.
The exhibit in Senegal will include all the sculptures he still owns, including his latest, ongoing series "Great Men" which features historical figures such as Charles de Gaulle as well as Mandela.
The sculpture of Mandela uses Sow's trademark technique that mixes clay, rubber and other materials coated in an all-weather substance.
"He [Mandela] extends his hand to keep corrupt African heads of state at bay," Sow told AFP in June.
Sow, who was born in Dakar, added that sculptures of Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and Gandhi would be included in his gallery of men who "helped me not despair of mankind".