Legendary Ghanaian Sculptor El Anatsui Will Be the Next Artist to Take Over Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall

The Ghana-born, Nigeria-based sculptor will become the 21st artist selected for the prestigious commission.

El Anatsui, 2019. Photo © Aliona Adrianova. Courtesy of October Gallery, London.

This fall, the Ghana-born, Nigeria-based sculptor El Anatsui will become the latest artist to take over the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, the museum announced today

The artist, who is known for his large textile-like sculptures made from recycled bottle-tops, will create a site-specific installation for the London institution’s signature, 85-foot-tall vestibule from October 10, 2023, to April 2024. His commissioned artwork will succeed Cecilia Vicuña’s own Turbine installation, up now through April 16. 

“El Anatsui is responsible for some of the most unique and unforgettable sculptures in recent times,” said Tate Modern director Frances Morris in a statement. “Anatsui’s much-loved Ink Splash II (2012) in Tate’s collection enchants visitors wherever it’s shown, and we can’t wait to see how this inventive artist will approach a space like the Turbine Hall.”

What Anatsui plans to do for the commission has not yet been announced, though those that know the artist’s work may have a good idea of what to expect. 

For decades, Anatsui has made a career of transforming found materials into humbling abstract sculptures. Often baked into his work are themes of globalization, post-colonial trade, traditional African craftwork, and the effects of contemporary consumption habits on the environment. This is especially true for his shapeshifting bottle-cap sculptures, which look lush but feel charged with geopolitical tension.

Anatsui’s creations live in the collections of dozens of prominent institutions worldwide, among them the ​​Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. In 2015, Anatsui was given a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale.

Tate curators Osei Bonsu and Dina Akhmadeeva will oversee Anatsui’s commission. The museum’s publishing arm also plans to produce a book about the project. 

El Anatsui, Three sightings (2021). © El Anatsui. Courtesy of the Artist and October Gallery, London. Photo: Jonathan Greet.

With today’s announcement, Anatsui becomes the 21st artist selected for the prestigious Turbine program since it was inaugurated in 2000 with a Louise Bourgeois installation

The Tate has consistently turned to some of the world’s best-known artists for the annual commission, including Doris Salcedo (October 2007 – April 2008), Ai Weiwei (October 2010 – May 2011), and Tino Sehgal (July 2011 – October 2011). Olafur Eliasson’s The weather project (October 2003 – March 2004)—which took over the Turbine two decades ago this year—was a smash hit, drawing more than two million visitors and topping many a best-art-of-the-year lists.  

South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has sponsored the program since 2015, helping to produce projects by Abraham Cruzvillegas (October 2015 – April 2016), Kara Walker (October 2019 – February 2021), and Anicka Yi (October 2021 – February 2022), among others, in that time. 

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