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Announcing El Anatsui: New Worlds


El Anatsui, They Finally Broke the Pot of Wisdom, 2011 Found aluminum and copper wire 15’6” x 23’ feet flat (dimensions variable) Approximately 11’4” x 22’6” feet installed
Photo Credit: 

Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

January 10, 2014

El Anatsui: New Worlds 21 January–8 June 2014

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is excited to announce the opening of its spring exhibition El Anatsui: New Worlds. The exhibition, organized by museum director John Stomberg and Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of African Art and Architecture Amanda Gilvin, focuses on six of Anatsui’s large-scale sculptures—five of which are wall mounted and one that extends across the floor.

These works are all constructed in Anatsui’s signature technique of joining the bands and caps of liquor bottles into broad expanses of flexible sculpture. Brightly colored and richly textured, these works of art engage a host of issues—from consumer culture to environmental concerns—related to contemporary life in a globalizing world. The works build on the artist’s engagement with Africa’s global history. European traders introduced bottled liquor to the continent, and rum figured prominently in the triangle trade that brought so many enslaved Africans to the Americas. While humble, even seemingly inconsequential, these bits of detritus carry with them evidence of a painful legacy hundreds of years in the making.

While the exhibition will be open to the public starting 21 January 2014, the Museum will hold the opening reception on Friday, 24 January at 5:30 p.m. featuring a lecture by internationally acclaimed scholar and Princeton University Associate Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu. His talk is titled El Anatsui and the Reinvention of Sculpture. Professor Okeke- Agulu has written extensively about the art of Africa with a special focus on modern and contemporary art. He has also consulted on several exhibitions and contributed essays to numerous books on the subject. The lecture will be followed by a reception. The Museum’s galleries will remain open until 7:30 p.m.

Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944) long enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for his sculpture in Africa, but he catapulted to international fame after his work was featured in the Venice Biennale of 2007. Since that time, his work has been the subject of countless one-person and group exhibitions, including two major travelling retrospectives, one of which continues today.

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum presentation has been made possible through the generosity of the Natalie Hofheimer Program Fund and the Susan B. Weatherbie Exhibition Fund.

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum: Founded in 1876, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum was one of the first collegiate museums in the United States—and today is one of the liveliest. It is a “cultural laboratory” for the campus and is actively used in teaching by faculty and students studying art, history, chemistry, French, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and numerous other disciplines.

The Museum’s comprehensive permanent collection of 17,000 objects features Asian art, 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings and sculpture, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, Medieval sculpture, early Italian Renaissance paintings, and an extensive collection of works on paper.

Collection objects are displayed on a rotating basis, allowing students to have access to original works of art of the highest quality. An illustrated online database also allows reference to the permanent collection, which is constantly growing through purchases and gifts.

The Museum is free, open to the public, and fully accessible. Hours are Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sundays.
For more information, visit or call 413-538-2085.