Is El Anatsui’s art sculpture that is inspired by textiles, or are they textiles made from metal? The definition can feel a bit tricky.
Any way you look at it, Anatsui’s large scale installations are breath-taking. Born in 1944 in Ghana, his body of work is far ranging and prolific.
With numerous gallery and museum shows that span decades, the allure of these imposing, shimmering sculptures is undeniable.
Years ago I remember walking through the Met, and turning the corner to see Anatsui’s Between Earth and Heaven - it is enough to stop you in your tracks! And upon closer inspection, the detail, care and consideration that goes into every individual piece is absolutely incredible!
Oftentimes working in metal, ceramic and wood, there is a clear relationship between his wall pieces and a piece of traditional Kente cloth. His works are dense, delicate, patterned and brightly colored - color field paintings made out of metal.
There is something very appealing about the malleable quality of his work. Each piece is intentionally free flowing, and can be installed differently depending on the space.
Anatsui is perhaps best known for his work in discarded aluminum bottle caps. There is something so striking about this work - the transformation of bottle caps “woven” and “stitched” with fine copper wire. In incorporating these cast off materials the work talks about waste, human consumption and beauty.