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Lisa M. Binder

(b Anyako, Ghana, June 13, 1944).

Ghanaian sculptor, active in Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sculpture (1968) and a postgraduate diploma in art education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969). After graduation he taught at the Specialist Training College (now University of Winneba), Ghana, in a position vacated by the eminent sculptor Vincent Kofi. From 1975 he was Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Anatsui’s practice often makes use of found objects including bottle caps, milk-tins and cassava graters. However, he is not concerned with recycling or salvaging; instead he seeks meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture and memory.

His early work consists of ceramic sculptures manipulated to reconfigure pieces of memory. In 1978 he began his Broken Pots series, which was exhibited the following year at the British Council in Enugu, Nigeria. Several of the ceramic works were made of sherds that were fused together by a grog-like cement of broken pieces. Making art historical references to ...

Article

Stephen K. Scher

(b Tunisia, Nov 24, 1901; d Lisbon, Sept 15, 1979).

Italian medallist and sculptor. He was trained at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Palermo (1918–19), and in Rome, at the Accademia di Belle Arti (1920–25) and at the Scuola d’Arte della Medaglia (1920–23). He taught sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Palermo from 1938 and was often honoured for his accomplishments. For a long period he worked in the USA, where he had individual exhibitions in New York, Boston, Baltimore and Chicago. His work was always included in any important exhibition of medals both in Italy and abroad and is to be found in Italian museums and private collections. The designs of his medals were often based on V-shaped compositions. The modelling is broad, the relief fairly high, and the surfaces range from highly finished to rough. It is evident that Sgarlata often drew inspiration from his Quattrocento predecessors, although his pieces are generally of a very large size, sometimes exceeding 200 mm: for example a medal depicting a man attacking a boar (...

Article

Shona  

William J. Dewey

Bantu-speaking people numbering c. 9 million, living mainly in Zimbabwe with a smaller population living in Mozambique. Historically, the people known as Shona identified themselves by either dialect or political names: the five main dialect clusters, Korekore, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau and Karanga are all mutually intelligible; it was not until the late 19th century that they became known as the Shona. Their neighbours to the north and north-east are the Tonga (Tonka), Chikunda, Sena and Barwe. To the south-east are the Hlengwe and Tsonga (Shangane), and to the south are the Venda. The Ndebele to the west incorporated most of another Shona dialect cluster, the Kalanga, into their kingdom when they moved into western Zimbabwe in the 1830s. The ancestors of the Shona are the builders of Great Zimbabwe and hundreds of other stone walled sites in present-day Zimbabwe. In the second half of the 20th century a new tradition of figurative stone-carving developed (...

Article

Andrew Cross

revised by Mary Chou

(b London Aug 9, 1962).

British sculptor, painter and installation artist. Born to Nigerian parents, he grew up in Nigeria before returning to England to study Fine Art in London at Byam Shaw School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College where he completed his MFA. Shonibare’s West African heritage has been at the heart of his work since he started exhibiting in 1988, when he began using ‘Dutch-wax’ dyed fabrics, commonly found in Western Africa, both for wall-mounted works (as pseudo paintings) and for sculpted figures. Generally perceived as ‘authentic’African cloth, the tradition of Batik originated in Indonesia, and was appropriated by the Dutch who colonized the country. Manufactured in Holland and Britain, the cloth was then shipped to West Africa where it became the dress of the working class in nations such as Nigeria. Shonibare used the material as a way of deconstructing the more complex histories that determine these and other images of ethnicity. As such, he has been described as a ‘post-cultural hybrid’ or the ‘quintessential postcolonial artist’ by critics as well as the artist himself....

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....