POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- Ghanaian-born and Nigerian-based sculptor El Anatsui has gained worldwide acclaim for his dazzling metallic hangings made from discarded aluminum liquor bottle caps. Noted historian of African art, curator, filmmaker, and photographer Susan Vogel, the Founding Director of the Museum for African Art, will discuss "El Anatsui's Marriage of Painting and Sculpture: A New Art from Africa" on Tuesday, April 24, at 6:00pm, in Taylor Hall room 102. This Ribicoff Lecture presented by the Department of Art is free and open to the public.
The bottle caps fashioned into Anatsui’s renowned gawu sculptures (“metal” or “fashioned cloth” in the artist’s first language) represent to him an important link between Africa, Europe, and North America. “Alcohol was one of the commodities [Europeans] brought with them to exchange for goods in Africa,” he explains. “Eventually alcohol became one of the items used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade….I thought that the bottle caps had a strong reference to the history of Africa.”
Anatsui is regarded as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation, and he frequently transforms found materials such as driftwood and metals into sculptures and wall hangings, finding meaning in the power of culture and memory. His work is currently touring the United States in the retrospective exhibit When I Last Wrote to You About Africa, curated by the Museum of African Art. He is also the subject of Susan Vogel’s 2011 documentary film Fold Crumple Crush (Icarus Films).
About Susan Vogel
Susan Vogel is internationally recognized as a curator and African art expert, and her body of work earned her the prestigious Leadership Award of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association. She has held the positions of curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Founding Director of the Museum for African Art, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and Professor of Art History at Columbia. About her exhibitions the New York Times has said, "In the 1980s and '90s [they] revolutionized the way art, any art, could be exhibited. No one else has fully picked up that challenge since.” Fold Crumple Crush is Vogel’s fifth documentary on African art and culture in distribution with Icarus Films through her production company, Prince Street Pictures. Her numerous publications include the Herskovits Prize-winning book BAULE: African Art/Western Eyes (Yale University Press, 1997), which gained the African Studies Association's highest honor for original research on Africa. Vogel earned her doctorate at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
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