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El Anatsui in "Change"
In his studio in Nigeria, artist El Anatsui oversees young studio assistants from the local community who work with him to create sculptures made from bottle caps, a found material from discarded liquor bottles that Anatsui began working with for the aesthetic properties of the caps, which also can allude to the role of international commerce in African history.More information
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El Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.