Ghanaian sculptor, El Anatsui, set a new world record on Wednesday when one of his art pieces – a woven tapestry of flattened bottle caps – sold for a record $850,000 at Bonhams Contemporary African Art Sale in London.
Anatsui, 68, is famed for using wood, metal, clay and recycled materials to create artworks that are heavily influenced and inspired by indigenous traditional African cultures. In this case, the 11ft by 16ft (350x500cm) masterpiece titled ‘New World Map’ was inspired by the Kente cloth, an extremely popular traditional narrow-strip woven silk cloth peculiar to the people of Ghana.
The Ghanaian-born artist is currently a resident of Nigeria where he teaches sculpture and Fine Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is one of Africa’s most reputed contemporary artists, and his works are housed in some of the world’s most prestigious museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and the Smithsonian.
This is not Anatsui’s first major sale. Just a couple of weeks ago, another tapestry he designed reportedly sold for over $720,000 at a Bonhams charity auction in New York, according to a report by Art Daily.