Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

When Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

21st century

When Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

People often say that contemporary art is trash. But, can we turn the equation the other way and make trash art? El Anatsui’s grand installations show that in contemporary art everything is possible, and it can be even beautiful and striking with craftsmanship!

What Is It Made Of?

Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

Ink Splash II 2012 El Anatsui, purchased with funds provided by the Africa Acquisitions Committee 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T14331

El Anatsui uses trash, elegantly called found material, as well as natural elements to compose his grandiose installations. One can find in his works objects that range from milk tins, bottle caps, riftwood, iron nails and printing plates. His use of recycled materials is not arbitrary. Anatsui wants to highlight this way the problems of the global consumerism to point out that there still are places in the world where people have to re-use out of necessity.

Painter or Sculptor?

El Anatsui, Between Earth and Heaven, 2006, ©El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

El Anatsui, Between Earth and Heaven, 2006, ©El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Anatsui considers himself both: although his works are installations which may be closer to scupture, they don’t have a fixed sculptural form, moreover, he essentially ‘paints’ the pattern with the varying colours of the bottlecaps. Robert Storr from Art News said that El Anatsui demonstrates that the smallest bits of scrap metal can map fields of colour and texture as lovely as a painting by Georges Seurat. Others have compared his works to mosaics, paintings by Gustav Klimt, or to traditional Ghanaian kente cloth.

El Anatsui,  Between Earth and Heaven, 2006, Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

El Anatsui,  Between Earth and Heaven, 2006, detail ©El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Who is He?

El Anatsui, Trova, 2016, Jack Shainman Gallery Trash Turns Art: El Anatsui

El Anatsui, Trova, 2016, Jack Shainman Gallery

Born in 1944, in Anyako, Ghana, El Anatsui studied at the College of Art, KNUST, in Kumasi, Ghana. Nowadays he lives and works between Ghana and Nigeria. However, as his art has become more renown internationally, he began travelling and exhibiting all over the world, in places like London, New York, Osaka, Florence, Toronto. In 2016 he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale and a year later he received the Praemium Imperiale, being the first Ghanaian to win the international art prize.


Curious about other African-born artists? Check the article about modern grasp on Rococco.

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in 21st century

  • 21st century

    Meet the Award-winning Sculptor and Installation Artist Ayşe Erkmen

    By

    Berlin-based Turkish visual artist Ayşe Erkmen has been awarded the Ernst Franz Vogelmann Prize for Sculpture in 2020. As the first woman artist to receive this prize, she will have her sculptures Kuckuck (2003) and not the color it is (2014) displayed in the retrospective exhibition...

  • 20th century

    Micha Ullman’s Empty Library: An Ode to Culture

    By

    A symbol of education in the city of Berlin, the Bebelplatz Square was chosen on May 10, 1933 by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Education and Propaganda of the Nazi government, to carry out the infamous autodafé. This sad episode of German history consisted of the burning...

  • Aerial view of Beirut Aerial view of Beirut

    20th century

    Beirut’s Art Scene: Before the Blast and Now

    By

    It was only three years ago, after a long civil war, that Beirut’s art scene began to find its feet. Despite ever-present political corruption, an unsteady economy, and rising inflation, the Mediterranean city has recently become a hot-spot for Arab artists that often attracts an international...

  • 21st century

    Three Unique Portrayals of Europa’s Abduction Myth

    By

    The mesmerizing realm of Greek mythology is one of the greatest sources for artists to exhibit their technical brilliance and unique interpretations. Its influence and weight not only strongly felt in visual arts, but in every other artistic discipline as well. Greek mythology is full of...

  • Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

    19th Century

    Artists and Their Myths

    By

    Sometimes, the story that is attached to an artist is as important as their craft. Let’s take a look at artists and the myths that are related to them. Though many think of myth as a fictional story, that is not always the case. In fact,...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy