El Anatsui, Dusasa I Installation view, 52nd Annual Venice Biennale at the Arsenale curated by Robert Storr, 2007 aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire 288 x 360 inches, courtesy: Jack Shainman Gallery
El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyanko, Ghana and studied Sculpture at the Faculty of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. He is one of the most prestigious sculptors in the international art world and teaches Sculpture at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka since 1975.
El Anatsui is part of the postcolonial artists’ movement which emerged in West Africa in the 1960s and 70s, dealing with the social, political and historical aspects of the colonial period. His art implicates a wide range of critical observations and is as diverse as his choice of tools and creative procedures. His bottle top installation Fresh and Fading Memories during the Venice Biennale 2007, when he covered up the historical Palazzo Fortuny, was a sensation. What makes his work extraordinary is the transformation of small objects into monumental sculptures which in their symbolism and patterns are reminiscent of various African textile traditions, at the same time addressing modern, transregional networks and structures.
Major museums worldwide collect his work. Among them are the British Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf.