From a live Smarthistory webinar: Dr. Allison Young, Teaching El Anatsui & “Global Contemporary” Art

Transform your course. From a live Smarthistory webinar: Dr. Allison Young, Teaching El Anatsui & "Global Contemporary" Art

Additional resources

Read about El Anatsui’s Old Man Cloth

Artist El Anatsui installing Between Earth and Heaven.” Metropolitan Museum of Art (2011)
Between Earth and Heaven”: El Anatsui and the Art of African Textiles.” Metropolitan Museum of Art (2011)
El Anatsui on Art21 (8 videos)
Contemporary African Artists: Changing Tradition. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem, 1990.
El Anatsui – Zebra Crossing, ed. Elizabeth Harney. New York: Jack Shainman Gallery, 2009.
El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, ed. Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu. Munich: Haus der Kunst, 2020.
Harney, Elizabeth. “A Nomad’s Revolutionary Beauty.” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Vol. 28 (2011): 114-129.
James, Laura Leffler. “Convergence: History, Materials, and the Human Hand—an Interview with El Anatsui.” Art Journal, Vol. 67, Issue 2 (2008): 36-53.
Okeke, Chika. “Slashing Wood, Eroding Culture: Conversation with El Anatsui.” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Vol. 1 (1994): 34-40.
Picton, John, et al. El Anatsui: A Sculpted History of Africa. London, UK: Saffron Books in conjunction with October Gallery, 1998.

For the classroom

Discussion Questions

  1.  In what ways does Old Man’s Cloth connect to histories of textile art in West Africa?
  2. Do you believe that Old Man’s Cloth is a two-dimensional or three-dimensional sculpture?
  3. How does Old Man’s Cloth relate to, or differ from, other examples of found-object or readymade art in the history of modern and contemporary art?
  4. If you were a museum curator at an encyclopedic museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, would you display El Anatsui’s work in the African Art galleries or the Modern and Contemporary Art wing? What do you think changes when the artist’s work is shown in either space?