El Anatsui: Hanging Out

January 1st, 2013 Posted in Art, Galleries/Museums/Exhibits

Ever since taking in the grand, yet humble, tapestries of El Anatsui at the Akron Art Museum last year, we suspect we are part of El Anatsui’s large club of admirers around the world. His collection of tapestry-like hangings are amazing assemblages of very humble materials. El Anatsui, born in Ghana but residing in Nigeria, is a professor of sculpture at the University of Nigeria.

Originally collecting bottle caps discarded by Nigerian distilleries, he experimented with the caps by flattening, color sorting and stitching them together with copper wire. They began to resemble the textiles woven in West Africa and over the years have morphed into shimmering works of art large enough to fill museum rooms and drape buildings.

As part of the 2007 Venice Biennale, El Anatsui hung his tapestry on the exterior of Palazzo Fortuny, where it ironically reminded visitors of Fortuny’s velvets inside. 

“Fresh and Fading Memories” 2007
Recycled metal and copper wire


For the April – August, 2012 Paris La Triennale, Broken Bridge wrapped an entire side of the musée Galliera at the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

“Broken Bridge” 2012
Recycled tin and copper wire



 As part of Jack Shainman Gallery‘s exhibition on El Anatsui, his largest outdoor sculpture, Broken Bridge II, was recently installed on the side of a building on the High Line in New York City. Measuring 157 feet wide by 37 feet high, it is actually a reconstruction of the Paris Triennale Broken Bridge and composed of 100 interconnected panels of recycled tin and mirrors.





El Anatsui’s solo exhibition, EL ANATSUI  /  Pot of Wisdom,  is open at the Jack Shainman Gallery from December 14, 2012 – January 19, 2013. 

Between El Anatsui’s exhibition and the Fortuny exhibition, Fortuny y Madrazo: An Artistic Legacy, at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute (in NYC also) from November 30, 2012−March 30, 2013, a visit to the city of New York seems to be in order!


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