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El Anatsui Edit Profile

painter , sculptor , university professor

El Anatsui, Ghanaian sculptor. Fellow: Pan-African Circle Artists; member: Forum African Arts (founding member 2000).


Anatsui was born in Anyako, in the Volta Region of Ghana, and trained at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, in central Ghana.


Bachelor in art, Kwane Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. Post-graduate degree in art education, Kwane Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.


He has drawn particular international attention in recent years for his iconic "bottle-top installations", distinctive large-scale assemblages of thousands of pieces of aluminium sourced from alcohol recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire, transformed into metallic cloth-like wall sculptures in a way that can "draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment". He began teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1975, and has become affiliated with the Nsukka group. He believes in exploring the medium thoroughly before shifting his attention to another one.

Anatsui's preferred media are clay and wood, which he uses to create objects based on traditional Ghanaian beliefs and other subjects. He has cut wood with chainsaws and blackened it with acetylene torches. More recently, he has turned to installation art.

Some of his works resemble woven cloths such as kente cloth. These works he did not intend to resemble textiles, but as sculptures. El Anatsui has exhibited his work around the world, including at the Brooklyn Museum (2013), the Clark Art Institute (2011), Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2010), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008–09).

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C. (2008). Fowler Museum at UCLA (2007). Venice Biennale (2007).

Hayward Gallery (2005). Liverpool Biennial (2002). The National Museum of African Art (2001).

The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (2001). The 8th Osaka Sculpture Triennale (1995). The 5th Gwangju Biennale (2004).

And the Venice Biennale (1990). A retrospective of his work, entitled When I Last Wrote to You About Africa was organized by the Museum for African Art and opened at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, in October 2010. It toured venues in the United States for three years, concluding at the University of Michigan Art Museum.

A major exhibition of recent works, entitled "Gravity & Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui," had its New York premier at the Brooklyn Museum in February 2013. Organized by the Akron Art Museum (exhibition: 2012), the exhibition later traveled to the Des Moines Art Center (2013–14) and the Bass Museum of Art in Miami (2014).


  • In April 2015 the Venice Biennale announced that it has awarded El Anatsui the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, a prize that "acknowledges not just his recent successes internationally, but also his artistic influence amongst two generations of artists working in West Africa.".


  • painting

    • Old Cloth Series

    • Ink Splash

    • Well Informed Ancestors

    • Drifting Continents

    • Ozone Layer

    • Gli (Wall)

    • Waste Paper Bags

    • Leopard's Paw Prints and Other Stories

    • (Amemo) Mask of Humankind

    • Communication Lines in 1004 Flats

    • Gravity and Grace

    • Tagomizer

    • Drainpipe

    • Wonder Masquerade II

    • Conspirators

    • Red Block

    • Bleeding Takari


Fellow: Pan-African Circle Artists. Member: Forum African Arts (founding member 2000).