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Archive for the ‘El Anatsui’ Category

By Norma, guest blogger
 
Last week, my quilting buddies and I visited the Clark to see the El Anatsui installation at Stone Hill Center. El Anatsui was born in Ghana and now lives in Nigeria, where he makes monumental sculptures from discarded liquor tops. He wires them together and makes a sort of metal fabric, which he then drapes, pleats, and places them on the wall.
Did I say they are enormous? It’s hard to tell from this picture of Delta, although I guess you can see the floor and the ceiling and get an idea of the scale.
Strips of Earth’s Skin is even bigger. I really wanted to touch it, but I didn’t.
This one, Intermittent Signals made me gasp as I entered the room. The golden colors took on a glow that reminded me of Egyptian splendor. It wrapped around two walls and ended up draping on the floor.
Barbara and Nike getting a close-up view.
Some of the tops were folded and spiraled around into circles that were joined together by wire.
In these last two you can read some of the names of the liquor companies.

There are only three pieces in the installation, but it was well worth the trip just to see them. El Anatsuiwas in Stone Hill Center, the newer section of the museum, which is a whole separate building. We could have taken shuttles up to the main building , but we opted to walk on the path through the woods. It was a lovely walk on a beautiful day.

At the main building we saw Pissaro’s People, the work of Camille Pissarro (1830–1903). This was a large exhibition with many rooms of his paintings. Although Pissarro was best known as a landscape painter, he had a lifelong interest in the human figure and painted people from many walks of life. We enjoyed this and the other special exhibit, Spaces, which were large-scale photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth.
 
It truly was a wonderful trip, and our heads were spinning with ideas.
 
[This post originally appeared on the blog News from Norma, and has been reprinted with permission.] 

Image credits:

All photos courtesy of Norma.

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Delta, 2010. Found aluminum and copper wire, 15 ft. 3 in. x 11 ft. 3 in. (464.8 x 342.9 cm). Private collection [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Strips of Earth’s Skin, 2008. Found aluminum and copper wire, 12 ft. 10 in. x 22 ft. 10 in. (330.2 x 696 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Intermittent Signals, 2009. Found aluminum and copper wire, 11 x 35 ft. (335.3 x 1066.8 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

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Check out the exhibition’s special website for more!

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Sneak Peek: El Anatsui

By David Breslin, guest curator of El Anatsui

Though one of the tasks of a curator and art historian is to find words for visual experiences, I’m mostly struck dumb and dumber when I stand on the terrace of Stone Hill and look toward the mountains in Vermont.

I find myself wondering, in something like a fever pitched by being totally in the moment, whether the bright green of the trees and earth is radiating toward me or if I’m inexplicably being drawn into it. I have nearly the same physical reaction when I stand in front of the three sculptures by El Anatsui that constitute our summer show at Stone Hill.

Giving myself over to their beauty, I get lost in things formal and aesthetic: the layering and repetition of color, the play of patterns, the heft and heave of material that intimate mass and space. So, yes, I take the bait. Beauty is the lure.

When we look closely at the sculptures, we see that color, weight, and form are the properties of the aluminum bottle tops that Anatsui uses to construct his works. But, for Anatsui, there is nothing neutral or natural—or even immediately beautiful—about those aluminum tops. It is an object lesson in history. Anatsui has said about his 2002 discovery of these materials:      

Several thoughts went through my mind when I found the bag of bottle tops in the bush. I thought of the objects as links between my continent, Africa, and the rest of Europe. Objects such as these were introduced to Africa by Europeans when they came as traders. Alcohol was one of the commodities brought with them to exchange for goods in Africa. Eventually alcohol became one of the items used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They made rum in the West Indies, took it to Liverpool, and then it made its way back to Africa. I thought that the bottle caps had a strong reference to the history of Africa.

Though the hook is beauty and we’re given the physicality of these sculptures to contend with, Anatsui also leaves us with the weight of time. It is a reminder that history is always around us—surrounding us like the mountains we see everywhere from Stone Hill.

Image credits:

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Intermittent Signals, 2009. Found aluminum and copper wire, 11 x 35 ft. (335.3 x 1066.8 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

Detail of El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Strips of Earth’s Skin, 2008. Found aluminum and copper wire, 12 ft. 10 in. x 22 ft. 10 in. (330.2 x 696 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica  [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

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