El Anatsui’s Golden Tapestries

Ghanaian born, Nigerian based artist El Anatsui is recognised as one of today’s leading African contemporary artists, his work includes sculptures created from wood, metal and clay, and more recently repossessed materials. Currently the Head of Sculpture in the Fine and Applied Arts Department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. El Anatsui’s work is said to draw from a wide range of indigenous Africa cultures, with some his tapestries being compared to the intricate silk and cotton woven strips used to create the Ashanti Kente cloth, and last year saw a world record achieved at fine art auctioneers Bonhams with the sale of an elaborate woven tapestry of flattened bottle caps, titled ‘New World Map‘ which sold in London for $850,455, another tapestry sold at Bonhams charity auction in New York for the sum of $722,500.

New World Map






Bonhams described the piece as a magisterial tapestry measuring 11ft by 16ft (350x500cm) and Director of Contemporary African Art at Bonhams, Giles Peppiatt noted that “It speaks of Africa in its use of traditional patterning but is very much of the moment – a massive hauntingly beautiful contemporary statement.”

Similar works by El Anatsui’s hang in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, including the Sainsbury African Galleries at the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pompidou, and the Smithsonian.




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