How El Anatsui Broke the Seal on Contemporary Art

Julian Lucas at The New Yorker:

Anatsui, a seventy-six-year-old Ghanaian sculptor based in Nigeria, has transfigured many grand spaces with his cascading metal mosaics. Museums don them like regalia, as though to signal their graduation into an enlightened cosmopolitan modernity; they have graced, among other landmarks, the façades of London’s Royal Academy, Venice’s Museo Fortuny, and Marrakech’s El Badi Palace. The sheets sell for millions, attracting collectors as disparate as moma, the Vatican, and Bloomberg L.P. In the past ten years, public fascination with their medium’s trash-to-treasure novelty has matured into a broader appreciation of Anatsui’s significance. The man who dazzled with a formal trick may also be the exemplary sculptor of our precariously networked world.

“Triumphant Scale,” a career-spanning survey, drew record-breaking crowds when it opened, in March, 2019, at Munich’s Haus der Kunst. From there, the show travelled to the Arab Museum of Modern Art, in Doha, where Anatsui was fêted by Qatari royalty. The exhibition had been slightly downsized for Bern, a city of mannered architecture and muted colors, where the artist’s shimmering invertebrate creations seemed almost unreal by contrast.

more here.