Published: December 30, 2008
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Fowler Museum at UCLA, with major support from the Broad Art Foundation, have jointly purchased “Fading Scroll,” a significant work by El Anatsui, one of Africa’s most heralded contemporary artists.
Recently named by Britain’s The Independent as one of the 50 greatest cultural figures shaping Africa, Anatsui was born in Ghana in 1944 and has lived and worked in Nigeria since 1975.
Typical of Anatsui’s recent work, “Fading Scroll,” 2007, is made of various discarded materials, including thousands of metal liquor bottle wrappers and tops stitched together with copper wire. Anatsui transforms these byproducts of contemporary life in urban Africa into a sumptuous and stunningly beautiful large-scale “tapestry” or wall sculpture that evolves in each new installation, draping differently to fit the particular aspects of any given space.
“Fading Scroll” references traditional African textiles †Ghanaian kente cloth, in particular †while also embracing interpretative possibilities such as the grandeur of Byzantine mosaics, the visual richness of Klimt’s portrait backgrounds and Gaudí’s architectural decoration.
The acquisition of “Fading Scroll” marks the first time that the Fowler and LACMA have acquired a work of art jointly, and reflects a new partnership for exhibitions, loans and scholarly exchange. “Both museums are thrilled to partner on this acquisition, which grows the Fowler’s and LACMA’s investment in African art while also furthering the collaboration between these two institutions,” said Michael Govan, LACMA’s chief executive officer and Wallis Annenberg director, and Marla C. Berns, Shirley and Ralph Shapiro director of the Fowler Museum, in a joint statement.
“We are particularly pleased to advance the representation of contemporary African art as well the collaborative nature of Los Angeles museums through the generous support of the Broad Art Foundation,” they said.
El Anatsui’s work garnered critical acclaim last year in the traveling exhibition, “El Anatsui: Gawu,” at the Fowler Museum, which recently completed its tour at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, and in the 2007 Venice Biennale. “Fading Scroll” is currently on view at LACMA as part of the exhibition “Tradition as Innovation in African Art,” closing November 2, and will be included in “Transformations: Recent Contemporary African Acquisitions” at the Fowler from February 22 to June 14.
LACMA is at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard. For information, www.lacma.org or 323-857-6000. The Fowler is in the heart of UCLA’s north campus; for information, 310-825-4361 or www.fowler.ucla.edu .
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