El Anatsui bottle top artwork to sell at Bonhams
A major work by one of Africa's most celebrated contemporary artists will cross the block at Bonhams next month.
Executed in 2006, Peju's Robe is a visually striking work by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui made from thousands of pressed aluminium bottle tops.
The tops, sourced from recycling stations, are sewn together with copper wire to create shimmering, flexible wall sculptures which can be hung like pieces of cloth. "By creating a form that is so free and not fixed," Anatsui said in an interview with Bonhams Magazine, "you can perhaps bring out the artist in those who would place the work."
Peju's Robe was originally commissioned by the artist's close friend and legal advisor, and comes by direct descent to the current owner, having never previously appeared at auction.
"The piece has special personal resonance for me," said Anatsui. "Peju's Robe mirrors the original owner's effervescent, playful and caring personality yet sombre and revered tone of the legal profession's use of black robes, which still obtains in courts in Nigeria today."
"The undulating, shimmering surface of Peju's Robe is an incredible visualisation of non-constraint, but it is also a brilliantly textural piece," said Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams Director of Modern and Contemporary African Art. "It is the perfect emblem of Anatsui's powers of transformation."
The work, measuring nearly three metres square, will now be offered with an estimate of £450,000-£550,000 ($643,335-$786,300).
The current auction record for El Anatsui's work stands at $850,544, set by another of his bottle top artworks 'New World Map', which sold at Bonhams in London in May 2012.
"El Anatsui's Peju's Robe is a remarkable piece and continues Bonhams' long association with the artist and his very best work," said Ralph Taylor, Bonhams Senior Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
"This early example is amongst the most accomplished from the series to appear at auction and takes its place alongside masterworks from Frank Auerbach, Andy Warhol and Kazuo Shiraga to lead this memorable sale."
The Bonhams' Post-War and Contemporary Art sale takes place in London on February 11.
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