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The Davis Museum and Cultural Center is pleased to present the U.S. debut of El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, the artist’s first career retrospective. Surveying nearly five decades of the artist’s internationally renowned career, the exhibition features some sixty works in wood, metal, ceramic, painting, print and drawing.
El Anatsui (b. 1944, Ghana) is best known for his most recent sculptures, shimmeringly beautiful and elaborately wrought large-scale wall hangings made from discarded liquor-bottle tops. Drawing on traditional idioms and contemporary art practices, his work resonates materially and symbolically with the cultural and historical conditions of West Africa.
From its earliest to its most recent examples, Anatsui’s work is characterized by the complex and surprising manipulation of materials, labor-intensive methods, and a signature use of color, line and form.
Exhibition curator Lisa Binder writes, “The vocabulary of El Anatsui’s work is inextricably bound to the materials he uses and the way in which seemingly disparate pieces relate to a whole. Although the elements are singularly humble, they become collectively monumental.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue with contributions by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University; Lisa Binder, Assistant Curator at the Museum for African Art, New York; Olu Oguibe, Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut; Chika Okeke-Agulu, Assistant Professor Art and Archaeology at Princeton University; and Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art.
Organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, the exhibition has been supported, in part, by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
The presentation at the Davis is generously supported by the Wellesley College Friends of Art, and by the Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28 Fund for World Cultures and Leadership.
El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa is presented on Floor 5, in the Harold and Estelle Newman Tanner Gallery and the Joanne Larson Jobson Gallery; and on the Lower Level, in the Gerald and Marjorie Schechter Bronfman Gallery and the Camilla Chandler and Dorothy Buffum Chandler Gallery.
For more information about El Anatsui’s work please visit the website designed by MaCherie Edwards ’11. The site was designed as a class assignment in the Fall 2010 Museum Issues Seminar, taught by Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis Museum. It features images of Anatsui’s work, as well as compelling videos and audio tracks.