• El Anatsui 1

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui,“Logoligi Logarithm” (detail), 2019, Aluminum, copper wire. © El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 2

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui. Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2019. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 3

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui, “Gravity and Grace”, 2010, Aluminum, copper wire. © El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 4

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui, “Erosion” (detail), 1992, Wood. National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, museum purchase, 96-36-1. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 5

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui,“Earth-Moon Connexions” (left)‚ 1993, Tempera on wood. National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquistion Program, 96-17-1. El Anatsui, “Invitation to History” (right), 1995, Tempera on wood, 15 individual planks in two rows. Collection of the artist, Nsukka, Nigeria. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 6

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui, “Red Block”, 2010, Aluminum, copper wire. The Broad Art Foundation. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

  • El Anatsui 7

    El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

    El Anatsui, “Man’s Cloth”, 2001, Aluminum, copper wire. British Museum, Af2002,10.1. Installation view, 2019, Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo: Maximilian Geuter.

El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale

1 October 2019 – 31 January 2020
Location: Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

El Anatsui (born 1944, Anyako, Ghana) is perhaps Africa's most prominent living artist. This exhibition encompasses every media used by the artist in his remarkable 50 year career, focusing on the triumphant and monumental quality of his sculptures, with the signature bottle cap series at the heart of the presentation. Along with these ambitious works, the exhibition includes wood sculptures and wall reliefs from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s; ceramic sculptures of the late 1970s; and drawings, sketches and prints.

Based in Nsukka in Nigeria since 1975, Anatsui's ideas were formed in the context of the creative environment there, marked by artistic experimentation and aesthetic research, and founded on the belief that great art can be developed anywhere in the world. Anatsui and his cultural contemporaries in Nsukka were motivated by a sense of worldliness that was more imaginative than locational, with an abiding conviction that their work could contribute to enlarging the scope of creative production in a much-expanded, global contemporary art scene.

Triumphant Scale testifies to Anatsui’s invention of a completely new and unique sculptural form and visual language, with material for artmaking revealed to him by his context of production. It presents ideas that inform his practice across the diverse media that he has worked with, from circular and multi-panel wood reliefs to terracotta forms, and the later metal sculptures. One such idea is art's ability to engage with the complex flow of history, memory and time, and the way in which these forces shape human society.

Anatsui's use of fragmentation as a compositional technique gives even the most abstract of his works an iconic power. For instance, the laborious manual work of flattening, cutting, twisting, and crushing bottle caps and using copper wires to stitch the elements into one dazzling epic piece serves as a metaphor for the constitution of humanity.