El Anatsui

Sculptor and teacher whose shimmering curtains made of thousands of throwaway metal objects have seen an upsurge in demand and value

Although the sixty-nine-year-old Ghanaian-born, Nigeria-based sculptor and teacher has been active since the 1970s, the last decade has seen El Anatsui’s reputation rocket. His breathtaking, shimmering curtains made of thousands of throwaway metal objects – bottle caps, aluminium wrappings, metal graters, printing plates – have wowed crowds across the world this summer, from the Brooklyn Museum of Art to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and the Venice Biennale. 

El Anatsui’s work, meanwhile, has been yielding record prices at auction and waiting lists at his galleries, as collectors and institutions find in his flowing, abstract ‘fabrics’ both aesthetic wonder and a stoic commentary on globalisation, consumerism and the cultural, social and economic histories of West Africa.