El Anatsui [ah-nah-ch-wee] (born 1944) is a Ghanaian sculptor active for much of his career in Nigeria. The youngest of 32 children, El Anatsui lost his mother and was raised by his uncle. He looked for "something that had more relationship to me, as someone growing up in an African country". El Anatsui wanted to "draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment". As he would say, "Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up". He has drawn particular international attention for his "bottle-top installations". These installations consist of thousands of aluminum pieces sourced from alcohol recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire, which are then transformed into metallic cloth-like wall sculptures. Such materials, while seemingly stiff and sturdy, are actually free and flexible, which often helps with manipulation when installing his sculptures.
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Born in Ghana and teaches sculpture in Nigeria. Anatsui is known for his large assemblages constructed from discarded materials such as bottle caps. His themes include reuse, transformation, and reconstitution of materials as metaphors for life and changes in Africa.
Ghanaian, African, Nigerian
Artist, Carver, Woodcarver, Mixed-Media Artist, Painter, Sculptor
El Anatsui, Emmanuel Kwami Anatsui, Anatsui El Dela, Kwami Anatsui
Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License