El Anatsui

Ghana 1944

Installation, Sculpture, Assemblage Art

El Anatsui
El Anatsui
September 4, 2016
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreja-velimirovi%C4%87-74068a68/

A master of transforming simplistic and basic materials into jaw-dropping assemblages, El Anatsui is an internationally acclaimed artist from Ghana that developed a practice out of shaping complex pieces unlike anything art history saw before him. This unique creative hybrid of a sculptor and painter became famous mostly thanks to his distinctive bottle-top installations which are basically large-scale assemblages made out of thousands of aluminum pieces originally intended for recycling. These cloth-like wall sculptures are a true highlight of Anatsui’s career and they’ve garnered him much international critical acclaim over the last few decades. El also worked in other forms of untraditional art as he loves experimenting with various mediums and techniques. Emerging from the vibrant post-independence art movements of the 1960s and ’70s West Africa, Anatsui has gone on to receive widespread international acclaim for his sculptural experiments and effectively influence many generations of young creators.

El Anatsui - Conspirators in copper and wire museum, 1997 - Image via huffingtonpostcom
El Anatsui – Conspirators, 1997 – Image via huffingtonpost.com

Early Life

El Anatsui was born in Anyako, a part of the famous Volta region. He acquired his formal art education by training at the College of Art at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, one of the most acclaimed faculties of Anatsui’s native country – if not the most acclaimed college in this African country. Ever since his earliest years as an artist, El preferred to work in clay and wood as these materials enabled him to create objects heavily based on traditional Ghanaian beliefs, motifs and subjects. This enabled him to feel proud of his heritage and have a distinct feeling of belonging. Typically, Anatsui would cut wood with chainsaws and blackened it with acetylene torches. As his hobby of sculpting became the center point of his studies, it came as no surprise that El decided to pursue a career within the world of art. Soon after he graduated from college, he began teaching at the University of Nigeria, accepting the position of a Professor of Sculpture. This happened in the year of 1975, and a few years later, El Anatsui became affiliated with the Nsukka group. This association was constructed by Nigerian open minded individuals who shared the same goal – reviving the practice of uli and incorporate its designs into contemporary art using media such as acrylic paint, tempera, gouache, pen and ink, pastel, oil paint and watercolor. Although uli were originally females, many of the artists of the Nsukka group were male.

Ever since these earliest days of his career, El Anatsui always showed a tendency to experiment and utilize new mediums – which is not a novelty for modern artists but was not a popular practice in El’s time as not many individuals back then respected too much diversity. What makes Anatsui different in that field when compared to younger colleagues, however, is the fact El spent years perfecting one medium. He does not experiment with it for a few weeks and then disregards it in order to start testing a new one. This artist has a strict rule of mastering the new medium before he even starts thinking about a new one – a principle that made Anatsui rather popular both in his earlier and mature career periods. Such dedication is not commonly found in any field of human life and it’s great to see El’s effort was well worth the trouble and effort.

El Anatsui - Gravity and Grace, 2010 - Image via huffingtonpostcom
El Anatsui – Gravity and Grace, 2010 – Image via huffingtonpost.com

El Anatsui – An Artist

It did not take long for El to start making a name for himself on an international level. He quickly established what will eventually become his recognizable trademark – Anatsui’s most famous works resemble woven kente cloths. However, the artist himself insists that although they look like textile works, these pieces are actually made with intentions of creating sculptures and that they should be treated as such. In order to make these large-scale sculptures, Anatsui incorporates what he calls Adinsubli for his works – a clever acronym made up of the aforementioned uli, nsibidi and Adinkra symbols. These phenomenal pieces typically make use of discarded materials, such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters, giving them a chance to be again utilized and appreciated. El composes them by folding and crumpling thousands of metal sourced pieces gathered from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These characteristic sculptures literally defy any attempt at categorization. The chosen resources with which El creates his sculptural pieces reflect his interest in reuse and explore the limitations of transformation. They also display an amazing ability to transcend the constraints of any one location without losing his fundamental desire of maintaining a connection to his native continent. This segment of Anatsui’s art has a distinguished visual vocabulary and it implies evasive stories and messages concerning the topics of colonialism, consumption, waste and the general well-being of our environments.

After a few years of experimenting, El Anatsui managed to establish his own artistic trademark – sculptures made out of thousands small metal pieces

El Anatsui - Ozone Layer in museum, 2010 - Image via publicbroadcastingnet
El Anatsui – Ozone Layer, 2010 – Image via publicbroadcasting.net

Choosing Installations

In his mature period, El Anatsui started to focus mostly on the installation art which became his focal point. He started to incorporate his intricate sculpted works, often massive in size, within his installations. Something that hadn’t changed for the entirety of his life is that El enjoys creating pieces with leaving them open to a wide range of interpretations, allowing the viewers to have much space to find their own meaning to what they are looking at. By leaving the installations conceptually open, Anatsui encourages the artworks to take on different forms every time they are installed to a new location. Furthermore, Anatsui tends to use poetic and evocative titles for his works that open a range of possible interpretations even more, while also inviting an emotional response on a personal level. Another aspect of Anatsui’s sculptures makes them rather interesting to traditional concepts. By making most of them with intentions of them being placed upon a wall, El challenges the foundational views of sculptures as something rigid and completely independent. In an attempt to explain and bring his work closer to his audience, El once stated that he considers himself to be both a sculptor and a painter at the same time, honoring aspects of both mediums. One of the finest analyses of Anatsui’s wall-based sculptures was given by Roberta Smith: …the works evoke lace but also chain mail; quilts but also animal hides; garments but also mosaic, not to mention the rich ceremonial cloths of numerous cultures. Their drapes and folds have a voluptuous sculptural presence, but also an undeniably glamorous bravado. These words definitely come as close as possible to understanding the mystical, intricate and layered works of El Anatsui.

In the mature period of his career, Anatsui focused most of his efforts to creating installation pieces and combining them with his unique sculptures

Jack Shainman once stated that El Anatsui's home form is the best aluminum wire and copper metal monumental artwork New york gallery and museum had a chance to view and contact since 1944
El Anatsui – Lines that Link Humanity, 2010 – Image via africanah.org

Exhibitions, Awards and Recognitions

El Anatsui has exhibited his work around the world with much success and critical acclaim wherever the pieces found themselves. His shows are always well visited and there’s never been a thing such as a lack of interest when it comes to this artist’s shows. El Anatsui exhibited his art at prestigious locations, events and institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Clark Art Institute, Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, National Museum of African Art in Smithsonian Institution of Washington, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Venice Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, the National Museum of African Art, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and the 8th Osaka Sculpture Triennale. Keep in mind that this is only listing some of the most impressive stats from El Anatsui’s Curriculum Vitae, so it’s not hard to get the right picture of how influential and respected this artist really is. Arguably his most important exhibition to date was the show entitled When I Last Wrote to You About Africa which opened its gates in the year of 2010. This extensive retrospective of Anatsui’s work was organized by the Museum of African Art and it toured venues in the United States for three years, setting various records in numerous galleries and museums. Another recent and major exhibition of El’s art was the Gravity & Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui show displayed in 2013. Two years later, in April 2015, the famous Venice Biennale proclaimed that it has granted El Anatsui the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award, a prize that recognizes not just the current successes internationally but also El’s creative leadership amongst two generations of artists operating in Western lands of the African continent. Lastly, Anatsui was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Harvard University on May 26, 2016.

Jack Shainman once stated that El Anatsui's home form is the best aluminum wire and copper metal monumental artwork New york gallery and museum had a chance to view and contact since 1944
El Anatsui – Anonymous Creature, 2009 – Image via art21.org

A Crucial Artist of the Contemporary Scene

Nowadays, El Anatsui is widely considered as one of the most important active artists emerging from the African continent. His works are held in an impressive number of both private and public collections in which El’s artworks are often regarded as focal points and core piece. The mere mention of his name fills galleries to the brim and the uniqueness of Anatsui’s art made sure that El’s rightful place in art history is guaranteed. In fact, he already managed to do so much for both his art and his continent that it would be unfair to even ask something more from El. He marked countless art pundits and aspiring creators from Africa, plus he will surely be influential for many more generations to come as his heritage is pretty much secured.

El Anatsui lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria.
Featured image: El Anatsui – Portrait of the artist – Image via Andy Keate
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2016Afrikas Stjerne - Monumentale Værker Af El Anatsui Trapholt, KoldingSolo
2016El Anatsui - Five Decades Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSWSolo
2015Us Is Them Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OHGroup
2015Surface TensionFLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NYGroup
2015Standing and HangingAltman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2015Choice: Contemporary Art from the Akron Art MuseumTransformer Station, Cleveland, OHGroup
2014El Anatsui: New WorldsMount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MassachusettsSolo
2014El Anatsui at 70Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria Solo
2014El Anatsui: Trains of ThoughtJack Shainman Gallery, New York Solo
2014El AnatsuiMnuchin Gallery, New YorkSolo
2013245th Summer ExhibitionRoyal Academy of Arts, London, UKGroup
2013ArtZuid 2013Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2013Masters of the TransvangardeOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2013Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of AfricaNational Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USAGroup
2013Broken Bridge IIthe High Line, New York, USASolo
2012Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El AnatsuiAkron Art Museum, Akron, OhioSolo
2012Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El AnatsuiBrooklyn Museum, New YorkSolo
2012Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El AnatsuiDes Moines Art Center, IowaSolo
2012Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El AnatsuiBass Museum of Art, Miami, USASolo
2012Pot of WisdomJack Shainman Gallery, New York, USASolo
2012Stitch in TimeAxel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp, BelgiumSolo
2012Broken Bridge IIthe High Line, New York, USA Solo
2012El Gran Sur1st Montevideo Biennial, Montevideo, UruguayGroup
2012All Our Relations18th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, AustraliaGroup
2012Intense ProximityParis Triennial 2012, Musée Galliera, Paris, FranceGroup
2012African Cosmos: Stellar ArtNational Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USAGroup
2012DialoguesSetagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2012We Face ForwardManchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UKGroup
2011 – 2012Environment and Object: Recent African ArtFrances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, New YorkGroup
2011 – 2012Environment and Object: Recent African ArtAnderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, RichmondGroup
2011 – 2012Environment and Object: Recent African ArtMiddlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, Vermont, USAGroup
2011 – 2012Architectural Environments for Tomorrow: New Spatial Practices in Architecture and ArtMuseum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2011The World Belongs to YouPalazzo Grassi, Venice, ItalyGroup
2011El AnatsuiSterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USASolo
2011ARS 11Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2011Hunters and Gatherers: The Art of AssemblageSotheby’s, New York, USAGroup
2011The Splendour of Truth, The Beauty of CharityThe Vatican, Rome, ItalyGroup
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaMuseum for African Art, New York, USASolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaRoyal Ontario Museum, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaDavis Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MassachusettsSolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaBlanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, AustinSolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaNorth Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North CarolinaSolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaDenver Art Museum, ColoradoSolo
2010 – 2012El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote To You About AfricaUniversity of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USASolo
2010 – 2011A Fateful JourneyNational Museum of Ethnology, OsakaSolo
2010 – 2011A Fateful JourneyThe Museum of Modern Art, HayamaSolo
2010 – 2011A Fateful JourneyTsuruoka Art Forum, Tsuruoka ArtSolo
2010 – 2011A Fateful JourneyThe Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, JapanSolo
2010GliRice University Art Gallery, Houston, Texas, USASolo
2010El AnatsuiJack Shainman Gallery, New York, USASolo
2010Who Knows TomorrowAlte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2010Human RitesBass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida, USAGroup
2010A Collective Diary, an African Contemporary JourneyHerzilya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzilya, IsraelGroup
2009Against Exclusion3rd Moscow Biennale, Moscow, RussiaGroup
2009Intramoenia Extra Art, Castelli di PugliaBarletta Castle, Barletta, ItalyGroup
2009Chance Encounters: Seven Contemporary African ArtistsSakshi Gallery, Mumbai, IndiaGroup
2009Transvangarde: Leading Contemporary ArtistsOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2009Confines Extremos. Confines UrbanosInstitut Valencia D’Art Modern, Valencia, SpainGroup
2009Off the GridBelger Arts Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USAGroup
2009HomecomingArtists Alliance Gallery, Accra, GhanaGroup
2009Promoter-of- Nigerian-Art SeriesGoethe Institute, Lagos, Nigeria Group
2009EmbraceDenver Art Museum, Colorado, USAGroup
2009El AnatsuiBelger Arts Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USA Solo
2009Process and ProjectBRIC Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USASolo
2008Earth Growing RootsSan Diego State University Art Gallery, San Diego, USA Solo
2008Zebra CrossingJack Shainman Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2008Second Lives: Remixing the OrdinaryMuseum for Arts and Design, New York, USAGroup
2008The Poetics of Cloth: African TextilesGrey Art Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2008The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without EndThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USAGroup
2008Second Lives: Remixing the OrdinaryMuseum for Arts and Design, New York, USAGroup
2008World HistoriesDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, USAGroup
2008Angaza Afrika: African Art NowOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2008Recycling: The Whole HouseKunstbanken Hedmark Kunstsenter, Hamar, NorwayGroup
2008Juego Africano de lo Contemporáneo: Pre-figuraciones PostcolonialesMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo Unión Fenosa (MACUF), La Coruña, SpainGroup
2008Prospect.1 New OrleansNew Orleans, Louisiana, USAGroup
2008Sonsbeek 2008: GrandeurSonsbeek Park, Arnhem, The NetherlandsGroup
2007Artempo – Where Art Becomes TimePalazzo Fortuny, Venice, ItalyGroup
2007Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present TenseArsenale, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy Group
2007Uncomfortable Truths: The Shadow of Slave Trading on Contemporary ArtVictoria and Albert Museum, London, UKGroup
2007Tapping Currents: Contemporary African Art and the DiasporaThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USAGroup
2007Un-Fair Trade: The Art of JusticeNeue Galerie, GrazGroup
2007Un-Fair Trade: The Art of JusticeLandesmuseum Joanneum, Styria, AustriaGroup
2007From Courage to FreedomOctober Gallery, London, UK Group
2007Living MastersTerra Culture, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
2007The Boys CraftHaifa Museum of Art, Haifa, IsraelGroup
2007Still Life: Art, Ecology, and the Politics of Change8th Sharjah Biennial, UAEGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaUCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, CaliforniaGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaLoyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IllinoisGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaRubin Museum of Art, New YorkGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaVisual Arts Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, GeorgiaGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaYerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California, USAGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaHillside Terrace Galleries, Daikanyama, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaFundación Canal, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaThe Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USAGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaBrukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, RomaniaGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaNobel Museum, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2006 – 2011The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai LamaSan Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, USA Group
2006Altered, Stitched and GatheredMoMA PS1, New York, USAGroup
2006DAK’ART 20067th Biennale of African Art, Dakar, SenegalGroup
2006#NAME?Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, USA Group
2006Europe-Afrique: Regards CroisésAteliers des Tanneurs, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2006Black Panther Rank and FileYerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USAGroup
2006Primitivsm Revisited: After the End of an IdeaSean Kelly Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2006Expanding Africa: New Art, New DirectionsNewark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USAGroup
2006Body of EvidenceNational Museum of African Art, Institution, Washington, D.C., USAGroup
2006AsiDavid Krut Projects, New York, USASolo
2006NyekorSpazio Rossana Orlandi, Milan, Italy Solo
2005Danudo: Recent Sculptures of El AnatsuiSkoto Gallery with Contemporary African Art Gallery, New York, USASolo
2005In the Making: Materials and ProcessMichael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2005Out ThereSainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich, UKGroup
2005AKA . . . of Age 2005Maison de France, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixMuseum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, GermanyGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixHayward Gallery, London, UKGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixCentre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixMori Art Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixModerna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2004 – 2007Afrika RemixJohannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2004A Grain of Dust, A Drop of Water5th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South KoreaGroup
2004Intelligence NowOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuOriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales, UKSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuModel Arts & Niland Gallery, Sligo, IrelandSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuGallery Oldham, OldhamSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuOctober Gallery, LondonSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuDjanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham, UKSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuSamuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FloridaSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuHood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New HampshireSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuFowler Museum, University of California, Los AngelesSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuUniversity of Arizona Museum of Art, TucsonSolo
2003–2008El Anatsui: GawuThe National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USASolo
2003Africa InformsOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2003Biennale of Ceramics in Contemporary ArtVilla Groppallo, Vado Ligure, ItalyGroup
2003Transfer(t)sPalais de Beaux Arts, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2003Homage to AseleNational Museum Lagos, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
2003Selected WorksSkoto Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2002The IndependentLiverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, UKGroup
2002New WorksOctober Gallery, London, UKSolo
2001 - 2002The Happy Face of Globalization1st Albissola Ceramics Biennale, Albissola, ItalyGroup
2001 - 2002The Happy Face of GlobalizationMusée Ariana, Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2001El Tiempo de AfricaCentro Atlantico Arte Moderno, Las Palmas, Canary IslandsGroup
2001El Tiempo de AfricaConsejería de Cultura de Comunidad, Madrid, Spain Group
2001Encounters with the ContemporaryNational Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USAGroup
2001Africas: The Artist and the CityCentre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Barcelona, SpainGroup
2001News from the FrontOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
2001Jazz and Visual ImprovisationsKatonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York, USAGroup
2001Ebony Soliloquy: A Five Year Retrospective (1996–2001)Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, USAGroup
2001Messagers de la TerreRur’Art– Espace d’Art Contemporain d’Lycée Agricole Xavier Bernard, Rouille, FranceGroup
1999New Colours From Old WorldsOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1999The TransvangardeOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1999Les Champs de la SculptureChamps Elysées, Paris, FranceGroup
1999Contemporary Art from West AfricaOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1998Triennale der KleineplastikStuttgart, GermanyGroup
19989th Osaka Sculpture TriennaleOsaka, JapanGroup
1998Riddle of the Spirits - Twelve African ArtistsSkoto Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1998A Sculpted History of AfricaOctober Gallery, London, UKSolo
1997HakpaFrench Cultural Centre, Lagos, NigeriaSolo
1997The Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka GroupNational Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USAGroup
1997Free Form and PrecisionContemporary African Art Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1996Container ’96: Art Across OceansLangelinie, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
1996TransvangardeOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1996Images of AfricaTorpedohallen, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
1996AfricanaSala 1, Rome, ItalyGroup
1996TransformsOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1996Group ExhibitionAvant-Garde Gallery, Kaduna, NigeriaGroup
1996El Anatsui & Tesfaye TessemaContemporary African Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1996El Anatsui & Sol Le WittSkoto Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeSetagaya Art Museum, TokyoGroup
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeTokushima Modern Art Museum, TokushimaGroup
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeHimeji City Museum of Arts, HimejiGroup
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeKoriyama City Museum of Art, KoriyamaGroup
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeMarugame Inokuma-Genichiro Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA), Marugame Group
1995 – 1996An Inside Story - African Art of our TimeMuseum of Fine Arts, Gifu, JapanGroup
1995AKA ’95Bona Gallery, EnuguGroup
1995AKA ’95Didi Museum, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1995El Anatsui: Sculptures and ReliefsOctober Gallery, London, UKSolo
1995Contemporary African ArtWorld Intellectual Property Organisation Headquarters, Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
19956th Osaka Sculpture TriennaleOsaka, JapanGroup
1995Seven Stories about Modern Art in AfricaWhitechapel Gallery, London, UKGroup
1995Seven Stories about Modern Art in AfricaMalmö Konsthall, Malmö, SwedenGroup
1995Configura 2Erfurt, GermanyGroup
1995The Right to HopeJohannesburg Gallery, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
1995Africus1st Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
1995Uli Art– Master WorksSkoto Gallery, NY, USAGroup
1994Arte - Sociedad – Reflexion5th Havana Biennale, Havana, CubaGroup
1994AKA ’94Bona Gallery, EnuguGroup
1994AKA ’94Didi Museum, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1993New Currents ’93 - Avant-Garde Nigerian ArtDidi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria Group
1993Six African ArtistsOctober Gallery, London, UKGroup
1993AKA ’93Bona Gallery, EnuguGroup
1993AKA ’93Didi Museum, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1992Arte AmazonasModern Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilGroup
1992AKA ’92Bona Gallery, Enugu and Didi Museum, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1992Begegnung mit den AnderenUniversity of Kassel, Kassel, Germany Group
1991El Desafi de Colonization4th Havana Biennale, Havana, CubaGroup
1991South of the WorldGalleria d’Arte Contemporanea, Marsala, ItalyGroup
1991AKA ’91Bona Gallery, EnuguGroup
1991AKA ’91Goethe-Institut, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1991Old and New: An Exhibition of Sculpture in Assorted WoodNational Museum, Lagos, NigeriaSolo
1991Works by a Group of African ArtistsThe World Bank Art Society Gallery, World Bank Headquarters, Washington D.C., USAGroup
1991The Sculptor’s Guild of Nigeria Inaugural ExhibitionMurtala Mohammed Park, Enugu, NigeriaGroup
1990Five Contemporary African Artists44th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy Group
1990The Calabash 1st Art ExhibitionThe Calabash, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1990AKA ’90The Presidential Hotel, Enugu; Goethe-Insitut, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1990Achebe Celebration ExhibitionContinuing Education Centre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, NigeriaGroup
1990Contemporary African Artists: Changing TraditionThe Studio Museum in Harlem, New YorkGroup
1990Contemporary African Artists: Changing TraditionAfro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, PhiladelphiaGroup
1990Contemporary African Artists: Changing TraditionChicago Public Library Cultural Centre, ChicagoGroup
1990Contemporary African Artists: Changing TraditionWashington Project for the Arts, Washington D.C.Group
1990Contemporary African Artists: Changing TraditionMuseum of the National Center of African-American Artists, Boston, USAGroup
1989Zeitgenössische Nigerianische KunstBonn, Bocholt and Mönchengladbach, GermanyGroup
1988Walls and Gates - El Anatsui & Liz WillisAvant-Garde Gallery, Kaduna, NigeriaGroup
1988Thoughts and Processes - El Anatsui & Ndubisi OnahThe Italian Cultural Institute, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1988AKA ’88Nigerian Union of Journalists’ Press Centre, EnuguGroup
1988AKA ’88Contemporary Art Gallery, Institute of African Studies, NsukkaGroup
1988AKA ’88National Gallery of Crafts and Design, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1987Venovize: Ceramic Sculpture by El AnatsuiFaculty of Art and Design Gallery, Cornwall College, Redruth, UKSolo
1987Pieces of Wood: An Exhibition of Mural SculptureThe Franco-German Auditorium, Lagos, NigeriaSolo
1987AKA ’87The Presidential Hotel, EnuguGroup
1987AKA ’87National Gallery of Crafts and Design, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1987Original Prints from the 3rd Nsukka WorkshopUniversity of Nigeria, Nsukka and Goethe-Institut, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1986AKA ’86 - Inaugural Exhibition of the AKA Circle of Artiststhe French Centre, Enugu and Goethe-Institut, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1986Nigerian-German PrintsUniversity of Nigeria, NsukkaGroup
1986Nigerian-German PrintsFranco-German Auditorium, Lagos, NigeriaGroup
1983Four Contemporary African ArtistsMintec Gallery, Port Harcourt, NigeriaGroup
1982Okike 10th Anniversary ExhibitionUniversity of Nigeria, Nsukka, NigeriaGroup
1982Sculptures, Photographs, DrawingsGoethe-Institut, Lagos, NigeriaSolo
1981Drawing on the WorldBillingham Art Gallery, BillinghamGroup
1981Drawing on the WorldMiddlesborough Art Gallery, Middlesborough and the House of Commons Gallery, London, UKGroup
1980Wood CarvingsCummington Community of Arts, Cummington, Massachusetts, USASolo
1979Broken Pots: Sculpture by El AnatsuiBritish Council, Enugu, NigeriaSolo
1979Broken Pots: Sculpture by El AnatsuiInstitute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria Solo
1979Christian Arts in NigeriaHoly Trinity Cathedral Hall, Onitsha, NigeriaGroup
1979The Nsukka SchoolArt Gallery of the Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture, Port Harcourt, NigeriaGroup
1976Wooden Wall PlaquesAsele Art Gallery, Nsukka, NigeriaSolo
1975Fabric Wall Hangings, Burnt Wooden Wall PlaquesThe Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, NigeriaGroup
1974Tekarts Expo 5National Arts Centre, AccraGroup
1974Tekarts Expo 5Specialist Training College, Winneba, GhanaGroup
1969 – 1970Ghana National CollectionNational Arts Centre, Accra, GhanaGroup
1969 – 1970Ghana National CollectionNational Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USAGroup