EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
4 More
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
7 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)

Lanogo

Details
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
Lanogo
Unyielding, and yet mailable; metallic and yet organic, El Anatsui’s Lanogo is one of the artist’s iconic sculptures which opens up the traditional concept of the object to an entirely new level of physical interpretation. El Anatsui has described his objects as ‘gawu,’ which in his native Ghanian Ewe language translates into English as a ‘metal cloak,’ and standing before this monumental shimmering tapestry of color and form, one is certainly embraced by its form, and becoming enveloped in the aesthetic and conceptual complexity of this striking work.

“Initially these were purely sculpture, but as time went on I saw that there was a need for me to consider so many other elements, like the colors that show the brands of drinks.... I work more like a sculpture and a painter put together, because the concerns of the sculptor and painter are what I am grappling with as well.” El Anatsui

What from a distance appears to be a shimmering mirage, upon close examination reveals itself to be an intricate arrange of bottle caps and their neck fastenings. Flattened and then arranged together into evocative fields of color, these are then tied together by Anatsui’s studio assistants into a vast expanse of metal cloth which dazzles as it hangs on the wall. The discarded bottle caps that Anatsui uses are central not only to the aesthetic appearance of the work, but also to its powerful conceptual narrative too. “I researched the history of how these beverages came to Africa,” he explained, “and found that they were brought by European traders, who exchanged them for various goods, and eventually even for slaves, who were taken to the Americas. The slaves probably worked on farms producing cane sugar, which in turn was used to make the drinks that were exported to Europe and brought back to Africa…In a sense, these bottles represent a link between the people of Africa, Europe, and America” (E. Anatsui in interview with J. Kalsi, Gulf News, 20 June 2013). Interestingly, Anatsui’s hangings have a sense of liquidity and mobility of their own. The artist encourages the owners and curators of his hangings to bend and drape the sculptures as they please, a choice that renders the works flexible and reconfigurable and open to almost limitless interpretation.

Of his process Anatsui explains, “I get these things [bottle caps] and I intervene by cutting them and opening them up and bolting them together in order to create very huge sheets that are so big that they give you the freedom to play around with them. Initially these were purely sculpture, but as time went on I saw that there was a need for me to consider so many other elements, like the colors that show the brands of drinks - like the reds, the blacks, the yellows, and so forth. And I work more like a sculpture and a painter put together, because the concerns of the sculptor and painter are what I am grappling with as well” (E. Anatsui, quoted in 'El Anatsui in conversation with Chika Okeke-Agulu', El Anatsui, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts, 2011, p. 10).

El Anatsui belongs to a generation of African artists who came of age in the 1960s, a time of fundamental ideological realignments that were often prompted by political independence from their European colonial powers. For Anatsui, this resulted in critical reappraisal of everything he had been taught in the Western-inspired curriculum he followed in art school, and its insistence on learning the virtues of figure modeling, anatomy classes, Graeco-Roman images, and Anatsui’s realization of their “inadequacy as meaningful bases for ‘re-ordering, re-interpreting, re-creating the world,’ which for him was the essence of contemporary art in the postcolonial world” (C. Okeke-Agulu, “Mark-Making and El Anatsui’s Reinvention of Sculpture,” in L. Binder, El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, exh. cat., Museum for African Art, New York, 2010, p. 33). Thus, as Andy Warhol coopted the ubiquitous Coca-Cola bottle to form the basis of his new Pop Art, Anatsui morphed discarded beer bottles into a new language of artistic inspiration.

Now a major figure in the world of Contemporary art, El Anatsui was living and teaching in Nsukka, Nigeria when in 1995 he had his first solo show in London. Since then, his work has been shown extensively worldwide and collected by major public institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the British Museum in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He was also the subject of a critically acclaimed retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 2013.
found aluminum bottle caps and copper wire
117 x 162 in. (297.2 x 411.5 cm.)
Executed in 2009.
Provenance
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2010
Exhibited
Oklahoma City, Artspace at Untitled, El Anatsui: Cloth Series, September-November 2009.
New York, Jack Shainman Gallery, El Anatsui, February-March 2010.
Special Notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

More from 21st Century Evening Sale

View All
View All