Bonhams strike gold with glittering El Anatsui tapestry

World record achieved for Ghanaian artist at Bonhams Contemporary African art sale

23 May 2012, Africa Now

Bonhams achieved a world record for the Ghanaian artist, El Anatsui, today (23.5.12) with an immense woven tapestry of flattened bottle caps, titled 'New World Map' which sold for £541,250 ($850,544) in London.

The huge masterwork by El Anatsui (born 1944) – a magisterial tapestry measuring 11ft by 16ft (350x500cm) - is similar to work the artist has shown at the Venice Biennale.

Giles Peppiatt, Director of Contemporary African Art at Bonhams, says: "We are delighted to have achieved a world record with this stunning work. It speaks of Africa in its use of traditional patterning but is very much of the moment – a massive hauntingly beautiful contemporary statement."

El Anatsui is widely recognized as one of the world's foremost contemporary artists. He was born in Ghana in 1944 but is now based in Nigeria, where he is Head of Sculpture in the Fine and Applied Arts Department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His work draws on the broad spectrum of indigenous African cultures and is particularly concerned with the erosion of inherited traditions by external forces and the nature of their continued transmission. He often links his work to events, people and current and historical issues.

El Anatsui has used many different materials over the years, including wood, metal, clay and more recently repurposed materials. 'New World Map' is a prime example of El Anatsui's recent work, made from flattened bottle caps woven together into a shimmering tapestry.

These hanging pieces are based on the traditional narrow-strip woven silk cloth made in Ghana, a source of national pride. Similar works by El Anatsui hang in some of the world's most prestigious institutions, including the Sainsbury African Galleries at the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pompidou, and the Smithsonian.

A fortnight ago another tapestry by El Anatsui, smaller in scale, sold at a Bonhams charity auction in New York for $722,500.

Contacts
  1. Giles Peppiatt
    Author
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8355
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5839
  2. Julian Roup
    Author
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8259
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8209
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