Archive for October 13, 2012

Artist of the moment…. El Anatsui….

The artist was born in Ghana in the year 1944. He is known for making wonderful works of art from recycled materials.

The artist installing a work at the Metropolitan Museum in 2008.

An interview done with the artist in 2011.

A clip showing the residency of the artist at Rice Gallery in 2011.


high price range: A work titled Harbinger made out of copper that sold for $722,000. Painting record is $60,953.

low price range:  Paintings can be found starting around $20,000.


The artist attended high school and college in Ghana, studying at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology in Kumasai, Ghana.  The artist has spent much of his working life in Nigeria moving there full time in 1975.  El Anatsui was hired as part of the faculty of the University of Nigeria at Nsukka.  The artist also has become associated with a group titled the Nsukka group. The group is mainly male, and is trying to revive the lost art of Uli. Uli is a name given to the style of art created by the Igbo people of Nigeria. The drawings and paintings are mainly linear, with very little depth or perspective. Most Uli artists of past generations were female.


In addition to working with recycled materials such as bottle tops,  the artist also works with clay and wood. In some works he actually makes carvings out of the wood and adds colors using a torch and sometimes paint. Later in his career the artist has taken to using metal to develop very large scultpures and installations.

Has been part of many museum exhibitions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of African Art (D.C.) ,the Venice Biennale, and the Center of Culture located in Spain. Anatsui gained international acclaim for his piece  in the 2007 Venice Biennale consisting of a large sculpture made of liquor bottle caps that was suspended on the outside of a building.

El Anatsui has a major show that opened in Toronto, Canada in 2010 titled “When I last wrote to you about Africa.”  This show is now at the Denver Art Musuem. It is included in the  general admission price.  As part of an art education program Colorado residents get free admittance into the first Saturday of each month. I plan to see this exhibition when I see Van Gogh at the Denver Art Museum which opens next week. The show for El Anatsui is a career retrospective so you can see how his style has changed and developed over the years.


I enjoy this artist’s work because its different. I would call him a major art force in Africa, on par the level of Ai WeiWei in China and the rest of Asia. Looking forward to seeing the artist’s exhibition in Denver as it will give me a better feel for the vastness of his art. He seems to work with an increasing amount assistants.  The El Anatsui exhibit at the Denver Art Museum will last until December 30th of 2012.