El Anatsui

I am obsessed. Years ago, I saw an image of this wall of wonder in a magazine and promptly tore it out and put it front and center on my wall of inspiration:

Of course, I lost the article with all of the info on who divined this rippling, metallic cloth. A few years down the line, when I was asked to do a space for the Skid Row Housing Trust’s latest building, I thought back to this image and decided to make a curtain in a similar style, with the help of my fellow M. Design-ers, Kate and Amy. My mistakes were multiple but the top two were 1) my unfettered optimism that this would be easy and 2) not understanding how the original was fabricated. I thought it was constructed of flattened bottle caps but alas, I was wrong. The ensuing three days of pounding hundreds of bottle caps flat, drilling tiny holes in them and attaching them with jewelers rings has gone down in M. Design history as one of the worst ideas I have ever had. Oh well…

Despite the quiet seething elicited from the ladies whenever I glance at the picture and remark on how cool it is, I remained intriqued so you can imagine my excitement when I ran smack into an incredible piece called Dusana II at the Met by the same artist, who I now know is El Anatsui. Mr. Anatsui was born in Ghana and now works in Nigeria and according to the Met’s website, “he is considered today’s foremost contemporary African sculptor”. I guess I am just catching up!

He fabricates his sculptures out of seals from liquor bottles and found bottle caps (naturally smashed) and the end result is an ethereal, chain-mail like cloth:
A few weekends ago, I was in San Francisco and saw something glinting on a wall on the second floor of the excellent deYoung Museum and ran up the stairs with high hopes of another Anatsui spotting. I wasn’t disappointed. Behold Hover II:
The closer you get, the more in awe you become that this artist can take items most of us would consider garbage and manipulate them into engaging, almost alive, Klimt-like wall sculptures. It certainly has made me pause and consider every possible permutation of each item before I toss it into the trash. I was thrilled to discover that the Jack Shainman Gallery is mounting an exhibition of Anatsui’s work called They Finally Broke the Pot of Wisdom from November 28 – January 12th. I can’t wait! In the meantime, I thought I would share some images (all courtesy of the Jack Shainman Gallery website) of Anatsui’s work to get you as excited as I am. Enjoy!

3 comments on “El Anatsui

  1. rebecca braverman on said:

    Oh man, those are all so beautiful. Reminds me (vaguely) of the facade of the Margiela store in Beverly Hills. Shimmery!

  2. Gorgeous! At first I thought it was mosaic but bottle caps– genius! And now, another thing I’m going to have to keep myself from hoarding for a future project.

  3. Usha Digiacomo on said:

    She has a piece at the Harn Museum (UF – Gainesville). From afar I thought it was gold leafed something. When I got closer: WOW, It ia an amazing piece.http://www.visitgainesville.com/attractions/harn-museum-of-art/

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