(Anyako, Ghana, 1944 - )
Lives Nsukka, Nigeria
The recipient of the 56th Venice Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, 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 printing plates and roofing sheets, embody not only a wide array of artistic techniques and aesthetic traditions, but also numerous layers of cultural meaning. Tapping into his own experiences, including his upbringing and education in Ghana, teaching and making art in Ghana and Nigeria and his travels around the globe, Anatsui creates art that represents ideas specific to his life and environment yet also speaks to universal themes of human connection and change.
El Anatsui’s work has been featured in many international exhibitions, including the 1990 and 2007 Venice Biennale and 2012 Paris Triennial. In 2012, the Akron Art Museum hosted ‘Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui,’ supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to great acclaim. The museum subsequently toured the exhibition to the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Among the many collections in which El Anatsui is represented are those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the British Museum, London.