Artist of the Week: El Anatsui

From Art21

El Anatsui was born in Anyanko, Ghana in 1944. Many of Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art.

“Earth’s Skin” (2007)/Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up.

– El Anatsui, 2003

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944). Earth’s Skin, 2007. Aluminum and copper wire, 177 x 394 in. (449.6 x 1000.8 cm). Courtesy of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944). Amemo (Mask of Humankind) (detail), 2010. Aluminum and copper wire, 208 5/8 x 161 3/8 in. (529.9 x 409.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photograph by Andrew McAllister, courtesy of the Akron Art Museum

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944). Gli (Wall), 2010. Aluminum and copper wire, installation at the Brooklyn Museum, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Brooklyn Museum photograph

More articles and informatuon about Anatsui

5 responses to “Artist of the Week: El Anatsui

  1. El Anatsui just had an exhibit at our local art center. The entire set of art teachers in our district (30+) spent one of our district PLCs exploring his artwork and other fine PD. It was a very neat exhibit.

      • We couldn’t take photos, as per his request. And I have a pamphlet somewhere. The image you have is very similar to much of his display but one in particular, I loved anyway, was his mounds of can lids welded together and draped like sheets on the ground. From first glance it looked like a wealth of pennies but close up you realized it was lids of milk cans. It was cool to also learn that he became one of the biggest employers of his community busy enlisting residents to help make his “textiles” out of the scrap metals and papers. The better work you did, the more you were paid. It was a very cool exhibit and if one ever comes your way, go to it!

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