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Fading Cloth

El Anatsui, Ghanaian, born 1944
Metal bottle tops and copper wire
Probably made in
Nigeria, Africa
Mixed media
Current Location
On View, Taylor Hall
dimensions variable according to installation: 126 in. x 21 ft. (320 x 640 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Minority Artists Purchase Fund, funds given by the Third Wednesday Group, Director's Discretionary Fund, and funds given by the Saint Louis Art Museum Docent Class of 2006 in honor of Stephanie Sigala
© El Anatsui, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Object Number
Hues of gold, red, yellow, and silver shimmer across the undulating surface of “Fading Cloth.” Although it looks like a textile, the work is actually made from discarded liquor bottle tops, which were flattened and stitched together with copper wire. Through this manipulation of metal caps, El Anatsui transformed the mundane into something visually mesmerizing. These materials are encoded with meaning. Europeans traded textiles and liquor in exchange for gold and slaves in West Africa. “Fading Cloth” weaves together a range of political, historical, and visual references specific to this region, where Anatsui was born.
2005 - 2007
October Gallery, London, England, representing the artist [1]

2007 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from October Gallery [2]

[1] Elisabeth Lalouschek of the October Gallery confirmed in an e-mail dated January 20, 2007 to Associate Curator Robin Clark that the piece came to the October Gallery directly from the artist in 2005 [SLAM document file].

[2] Invoice dated February 14, 2007 [SLAM document file] and Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, February 15, 2007.
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