Copper in the Arts

March 2013

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui on view at Brooklyn Museum

aluminum and copper wire El Anatsui, Red Block, 2010. Aluminum and copper wire.

Photograph courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.

The first solo exhibition in a New York museum by metal artist El Anatsui will be on view through Aug. 4 at the Brooklyn Museum. Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui will feature more than 30 large-scale works in copper, metal and wood that transform appropriated objects into site-specific sculptures. Anatsui converts found materials into a new type of media that lies between the bounds of sculpture and painting. In so doing, he combines aesthetic traditions from his birth country Ghana, his home in Nsukka, Nigeria, and the global history of abstraction. His works can take on radically new shapes with each installation. Anatsui gives curators and designers the opportunity to install his art in ways that make use of their particular exhibition space, highlighting the intricacy of each piece. Included in the exhibition are twelve recent monumental wall and floor sculptures, including Gli (Wall), 2010, and Earth's Skin, 2009, which are widely considered to represent the apex of Anatsui's career.

Gravity and Grace explores the many historical connections between Africa, Europe, and the Americas in a wholly new, African medium. The exhibition also includes wall reliefs of interchangeable wooden pieces, such as Amewo (People), 1998/2010, which reference the artist's earlier work in wood and bear compositional relationships to the large metal pieces. Anatsui's alchemical transformation of discarded materials raises pressing issues of global consumerism and highlights the blurring of geographic identities.

El Anatsui's work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum Kunstpalast, and the de Young Museum. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1990 and 2007, to considerable global acclaim. A version of Gravity and Grace toured Japan in 2010 to 2011 under a different title.


The Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy, New York, NY, (718) 638-5000

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