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Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Contemporary African Art

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London

El Anatsui
B.1944
GHANAIAN
TAGOMIZOR
aluminium bottle caps and copper wire
155 by 216cm., 61 by 85in.
Executed in 2005
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

Exhibited

New York City, New York, Skoto Gallery in collaboration with Contemporary African Art Gallery, Danudo-Recent Sculpture of El Anatsui, New York City, New York,  27 October 2005-21 January 2006 
Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum (organised by the Museum for African Art), When I Last Wrote you about Africa, 2 October 2010-2 January 2010, illustrated in colour in the catalogue p. 124; Wellesley, Massachusetts, The Davis Museum and Cultural Centre, Wellesley College, 30 March-26 June 2011; Austin, Texas, The Blanton Art Museum, The University of Texas at Austin, 25 September 2011-22 January 2012; Raleigh, North Carolina, North Carolina Museum of Art, 18 March 2012-29 July 2012; Denver, Denver Art Museum, 9 September 2012-6 January 2013; Ann Arbour, Michigan, University of Michigan Museum of Art, University of Michigan, 2 February-5 May 2013 

Catalogue Note

'TAGOMIZOR' by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui is a hanging sculptural work made of aluminium bottle caps and copper wire. Born in 1944, the artist has achieved global recognition, cementing his position as one of the world's leading contemporary artists. El Anatsui currently lives and works between Ghana and Nigeria.

El Anatsui moved to Nigeria in 1957, where he began to work with wood in a series of burnt, incised and painted panels. Over the next 15 years, the artist would participate in multiple exhibitions in Nsukka and Enugu before being selected to exhibit at the 44th Venice Biennale (1990), where he received honourable mention.

In 1998, while taking an exploratory walk, El Anatsui discovered a bag of discarded ‘Peak’ branded milk tin can lids. This discovery inspired him to begin creating metal sheet works such as 'Peak Project' (1999) and 'Incoming Wave' (1999). This initial body of work prefigures his bottle neck wrapper tapestries, for which the artist is most known. 'TAGOMIZOR' is part of the artist’s Danudo Series and is comprised of recycled bottle caps, as evidenced by the ingrained dirt and weathering that can be seen within the metallic sheets. The use of recycled bottle caps provides the work with an added layer of authenticity as El Anatsui eventually began to acquire bottle caps directly from factories in order to create his later works. 

The glimmering tapestries that make up the Danudo Series are characterised not only by their intimate size but also by their resemblance to fabric, often described as El Anatsui’s most cloth-like wall hangings. Comprising of geometric patterns of black and yellow bands, evoking imagery of traditional Ghanaian Adinkra symbols, 'TAGOMIZOR', like many other works in the series, presents a unified whole despite its clear geometric divisions. Unlike many of the artist’s larger tapestries, which benefit from bunching and rippling, the works in this series were intended to hang flatter, recalling images of distant landscapes. This unusual characteristic is further highlighted by the inclusion of a low horizontal line running across the width of many of the works, and sometimes at the top.

El Anatsui created 'TAGOMIZOR' in 2006, later that year the work was included in the exhibition Danudo-Recent Sculpture of El Anatsui (2005-2006). Held in collaboration with both Skoto Gallery and Contemporary African Art Gallery in New York City, this exhibition marked the first time the artist’s bottle cap works would be exhibited in North America. That same year, El’s bottle cap works would be included for the first time in an American institutional show at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.

TAGOMIZOR was later exhibited at the Museum of African Art’s 2010 internationally touring exhibition, When I Last Wrote to you About Africa. Other works by the esteemed artist were included in key exhibitions such as Africa Remix (2004-2007), which traveled to the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Hayward Gallery (London), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), museum kunst palast (Dusseldorf), Johannesburg Art Gallery and Mori Art Museum (Tokyo). In 2007, El Anatsui was invited to exhibit his works 'Fresh and Fading Memories', 'Dusasa I' and 'Dusasa II' at the 2007 Venice Biennale in the Palazzo Fortuny and Arsenale. This was a turning point for the artist, who stated: 

"I've been Venice four times now, twice as exhibitor and twice as a visitor. When I first went, twenty years ago, I was cast in the light of an 'African artist,' whereas in 2007, I was just another artist. The constraining label of being an artist from somewhere else had disappeared. That's an important development.'' 

Since then, El Anatsui has enjoyed numerous ground-breaking exhibitions and is celebrated as one of the most influential contemporary artists of today. In 2009, El Anatsui was awarded the Artist Honoree prize, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. In 2014, the artist became the first honorary Academician from Africa at London’s Royal Academy of Art and in 2015 he was honoured with the Venice Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. 

El Anatsui’s works are included in many museum collections worldwide, including the Akron Art Museum (Ohio), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle), British Museum (London), Brooklyn Museum ( New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Des Moines Art Center (Iowa), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), MoMA (New York), Royal Ontario Museum (Ontario), The Broad Museum (Los Angeles) and Newark Museum (New Jersey). 

Bibliography:

Susan Vogel, El Anatsui Art and Life, 2012, p. 77
Susan Vogel, El Anatsui Art and Life, 2012, p. 62

 

Modern & Contemporary African Art

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London