Ghanaian-born Nigeria-based artist El Anatsui is known for sprawling metal sculptures that drape, twist, and fold across expansive surfaces in colorful, undulating patterns. A forthcoming book, El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture, traces his work and career that has pushed the boundaries of sculpture, starting with the terracotta pieces made in the late 1970s. In the following decade, he transitioned to using wood and began to experiment with scale, layers, color, and pattern. These pieces led to the development of his larger metal works, which are made by manually cutting, twisting, or flattening pieces of aluminum such as bottle caps and then stitching the material together with copper wire, creating enormous, textile-like sculptures.
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Published by Damiani, the new 360-page volume is the product of more than three decades of research and collaboration with the artist by scholars Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu, who place Anatsui’s work in the historical context of post-independence Ghana and mid-20th century African modernism in art and writing. Hundreds of color images examine the sculptures in detail, giving the reader an in-depth insight into the artist’s process, how transformation is central to his pieces, and how his approach evolved over time.