03 8 / 2012
In February 2009, Alexi Worth got me very excited about the Museum for African Art, and especially its inauguaral exhibition, of one of my favorite artists, El Anatsui. Worth, like me, marveled at his artworks:
Next year they will arrive in New York to be celebrated as part of the opening of the dramatically transformed Museum for African Art, in its new home on upper Fifth Avenue. They will be a centerpiece of the museum’s reopening exhibition — and, more than that, a proof of the growing prominence of contemporary African art on the world stage. It’s possible that they may join the short list, along with Duchamp’s bicycle wheel, Rauschenberg’s bed and Koons’s basketballs, of masterpiece detritus: once mundane objects that permanently transform our expectations about what art is, and where it comes from.
“Next year,” here, means 2010. And, well, museums have delays. But what’s this?
The first solo exhibition in a New York museum by the artist El Anatsui will be presented at the Brooklyn Museum from February 8 through August 4, 2013. Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui will feature over 30 primarily large-scale works in metal and wood that transform appropriated objects into site-specific sculptures.
It seems that everybody got so fed up waiting for the Museum for African Art to open, that the Brooklyn Museum just went ahead and decided to put on its own El Anatsui show, opening in February 2013. And that show, rather than the MFAA’s show, will turn out to be the first big El Anatsui retrospective in New York. (The MFAA’s show has been on tour since 2010, opening at the Royal Ontario Museum, and, I guess, just waiting for the MFAA to open ever since.)
So, what’s the status of the MFAA? Will it ever open? Will the El Anatsui show ever appear there? And is the Brooklyn Museum show a spoiler, or just a realistic admission that the MFAA seems to have failed in its ambitions?