EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
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Property Sold to Benefit Cleveland Clinic
EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)

Gold Band

EL ANATSUI (B. 1944)
Gold Band
signed, numbered and dated 'El Anatsui 2020 BAT' (on a paper label affixed to the reverse)
UV-cured acrylic resin inkjet print and copper wire on aluminum
56 x 56 x 3 1⁄2 in. (142.2 x 142.2 x 8.9 cm.)
Executed in 2020. This work is the Bon À Tirer proof aside from an edition of twelve plus four artist's proofs.
Benefit Print Project, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2020

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War to Present

Lot Essay

A glistening, billowing mirage of regal golds, reds, blues, and blacks, Gold Band is emblematic of El Anatsui’s transformative perspective on the genre of sculpture. Executed in 2020, the present work is geological and organic, a trompe l’oeil that dually reflects a sense of freedom and rigidity. Gold Band creates a shimmering, metallic surface that calls upon his global, non-Western influences—namely, elaborate Byzantine mosaics, ornamental Indo-Islamic tilework, and Ghanaian textiles.

Measuring roughly five feet in both directions, Gold Band is, at present, the largest printed work by the artist done entirely in metal. Part of an edition of twelve, the present work carries its unique nuances. Each pattern was specifically designed and printed on aluminum, then hand-cut and hand-sculpted—ultimately connected by copper wire. Inspired by the prints on liquor bottle caps that arrived to Africa on the ships of European traders, these patterns and their corresponding copper wire serve as a conceptual link between the West and the non-West. What results is a shimmery, fluid surface that straddles the realms of both painting and sculpture. Standing out from Anatsui’s compositions traditionally made from bottle caps—among other found materials—Gold Band’s printed nature actually heightens the element of human touch and manipulation, challenging the traditional concept of the object and opening up the field of conceptual complexity to an entirely new level of physical interpretation.

Coming of age in the 1960s, Anatsui is part of a generation of African artists reimagining life after political independence from European colonial power. For Anatsui, this resulted in a critical rethinking of everything that had been taught in the Western-inspired curriculum of his art school, which insisted on the importance of learning the virtues of figure modeling, anatomy classes, and Roman images. No longer could he use the existing framework to understand the contemporary, postcolonial world. Instead, he had to create his own lexicon of interpretation, inventing his own materials and shattering pre-conceived notions of sculpture and painting along the way.

Physically and conceptually, Gold Band emanates the creativity of Anatsui’s push beyond the realm of Western art. From the digitally-printed patterns inspired to their careful, hand-worked arrangement, the present work is laden not only with shimmering, ephemeral beauty but also a narrative that transcends existing categories within the art historical canon.

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