El Anatsui Ghana, b. 1944


El Anatsui (b. 1944, Ghana) is a master of African contemporary art who has achieved global recognition with artistic experiments that reject the tradional conventional customs and judgements on what is sculpture. While working as an artist and educator over the past 40 years, Anatsui has contributed to broadening the horizon of art participatory in society by voicing political and historical perspectives.


Anatsui has won critical acclaim in the art world for his sculptures in which large amounts of aluminum parts obtained from recycling centers are woven together with copper wire and transformed into tapestry-like forms. His works which reuse simple materials like cast-aside objects to create works with large-scale, colorful visual effects reminds us not only of the “individual memories” of consumed objects, but is also an aesthetic practice to let us view the “collective memories” in which historical time is spent. El Anatsui’s sculptures, which draw their artistic aesthetics from ordinary, everyday life, subverts the concept of traditional sculpture, adhering to fixed forms with a flexible and non-hierarchical stance. 


Currently working between Ghana and Nigeria, Anatsui’s artworks are housed in a number of institutions including the British Museum, London; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf; and Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo. They have also been showcased at various international exhibitions including the 1990, 2007, and 2015 Venice Biennales and the 2012 Paris Triennale. Anatsui received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Venice Biennale. In 2023, El Anatsui has created a monumental new artwork Behind the Red Moon made of thousands of metal bottle tops and fragments for Hyundai Commission at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.