Though the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused dislocation in the world’s economy, it has not stopped the artist, Prof. El Anatsui, from doing what people know him best for, philanthropy.
El Anatsui’s show entitled, El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, would have gone to Switzerland’s Museum of Fine Arts, Berne, from March to June 2020; and Spain’s Guggenheim Bilbao, from July to November 2020, but had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foremost artist recently donated books worth $100,000 to the Prempeh II Library, College of Art and Built Environment (CABE), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana.
The emeritus professor earned his bachelor’s degree in sculpture and a post-graduate diploma in art education from KNUST, in 1969. He taught at the Specialist Training College (now University of Education) in Winneba, Ghana, until 1975. That same year he moved to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he taught sculpture and basic design. After his retirement in 2011, he became an emeritus professor in 2014.
Dr. Edwin Bodjawah, who presented the books on behalf of Professor Anatsui, said the donation was made in consultation with the lecturers of the college who indicated the exact books CABE needed to enhance teaching, learning, and research by both staff and students.
Bodjawah said: “Prof. El Anatsui has been like a godfather, a patron and mentor in all spheres of art world. He has been a philanthropist not only to us, but also to other schools in Africa. He likes to work in the quiet.”
Receiving the books, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, thanked Professor Anatsui for reaching out to CABE and the university. His work is found in the collections of no less than 60 of the world’s major international museums in Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa. Major global galleries, as well as individual continental and international art collectors, have also acquired his work.
Among some of the institutions in whose collections his works can be found are The British Museum, London; The Centre Pompidou, Paris; The de Young Museum, San Francisco; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi; The Osaka Foundation of Culture, Japan; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Tate, London; and The Leeum Samsung Museum, Korea.
The sculptor is a recipient of some of the art world’s most prestigious prizes and honours. These include Japan’s Praemium Imperiale (2017), which is regarded as art’s Nobel Prize, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia (2015).
Anatsui is an Honourary Royal Academician of Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts and holds honorary doctorates, which include that of Harvard University and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
The Emeritus Professor has also been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters.