August 9, 2011


El Anatsui, the African phenominal African artist, demonstrates why he has catapulted into fame in a show at Stone Hill Center at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

While exhibiting for more than 30 years, Anatsui didn't come to international attention until 2004 when his work was part of Africa Remox, an exhibit seen in Dusseldorf, London, Paris Tokyo and Stockholm.

Anatsui has a local connection. He is represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. Jack is the son of Erwin and Florence Shainman of Williamstown. He father is a professor emeritus at Williams College.

The hangings are made of recycled metal bottle caps recycled from liquor  bottles. He strings them together with copper wire.

All this began about 10 years ago when he found a big bag of cast off  caps along a roadside.

When Gary Tinterow, the curator of modern art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, first saw them in 2007 he told the New York Times, "I was blown away."

According to the Times, Tinterow arranged for the Met to buy one that day.

Liquor was part of the slave trade, so the caps give the work a symbolic quality that I gathered from material from the Clark rather than my own brilliant analysis.

I love the way these works are hung - you might say drapped - the folds contributing to their beauty.

Anatsui was born in Ghana in 1944 and works The show will be up through October 16.

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