Dzesi II

El Anatsui

(Anyako, Ghana, 1944 - )


Aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire

117 in. x 195 in. x 8 in. (297.18 cm x 495.3 cm x 20.32 cm)

Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Reed II


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El Anatsui is known worldwide for his shimmering wall hangings composed of aluminum liquor bottle caps, copper wire and other discarded materials. His artworks, which also include relief sculptures of burnt wood and constructions from metal printing plates and roofing sheets, embody a wide array of artistic techniques, aesthetic traditions and layers of cultural meaning. ‘Dzesi II’ is made of liquor bottle caps, which recall the alcohol brought by Europeans to trade for slaves and other commodities. They also speak to the high consumption of alcohol in the artist’s community and its social costs. To construct the work, El Anatsui and his assistants flattened the caps and joined them with wire. As in Ghanaian kente cloth, narrow strips are made and assembled to form vast patterns. Dzesi means “sign” or “identity” in the language of Anatsui’s people, the Ewe, and the concentric circles are an Asante symbol for “king.” Because of its scale, ‘Dzesi II’ also suggests American abstract painting from the 1960s and 1970s.

Abstract art
Found objects