El Anatsui, Ghanaian, born 1944


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Aluminum bottle tops and copper wire

Overall: 240 × 216 in. (609.6 × 548.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows

© El Anatsui



Place Made: Ghana, Western Africa, Africa


21st century

Object Name


Research Area



Not on view


This majestic and monumental sculpture pays tribute to the textile traditions of West Africa. Loosely draped on the wall like a shimmering tapestry of silver and gold, Hovor appears to be fluid and supple. On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that this massive "cloth" is made from thousands of very small, flattened pieces of aluminum liquor bottle caps held together by copper wire. Hovor’s colors, patterns, and designs mimic traditional Ghanaian textiles, particularly strip-woven kente cloth, which was first developed in the 12th century as sacred regalia worn by Ashante and Ewe royalty. Today kente cloth has become a global icon of African cultural heritage, its symbolic patterns migrating into contemporary everyday fashions in Africa and around the world.

Hovor incorporates elements of the past with contemporary life, not only through its visual reference to African textile traditions, but also through the artist’s purposeful use of recycled materials. Beyond Hovor’s resplendent visual impact, this work imparts a poignant message about postcolonial heritage, especially the impact of globalization and the excess of mass consumption, alcoholism, exploitation, and waste on the cultural, spiritual, and physical landscape of Africa.

From the 2019 exhibition Global Contemporary: A Focus on Africa, curated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator of African Art

Course History

HIST 66/AAAS 15, History of Africa Since 1800, Naaborko Sackeyfio-Lenoch, Winter 2021

Exhibition History

Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, England

El Anatsui: GAWU, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 6-March 4, 2007; The Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, April 22-August 29, 2007.

Gallery Oldham, Oldham, England

Global Contemporary: A Focus on Africa; Dorothy and Churchill Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26-December 8, 2019.

Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo, Ireland

Modern and Contemporary Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 26,2009-March 15, 2010.

Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida, USA

The October Gallery, London, England

Tossed: Art from Discarded, Found, and Repurposed Materials, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, Vermont, May 26-December 10, 2023.

Virtual Space for Dialogue, 2017, Self (Hood), Alison Guh, Class of 2017, Mellon Special Prjects Intern, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. https://www.aguh.vsfd.hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/

Publication History

Gawu: El Anatsui. Llandudno : Oriel Mostyn Gallery, about 2003.

Brian P. Kennedy and Emily Shubert Burke, Modern and Contemporary Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2009, p.130, no.104.

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 201, ill. plate no. 132.


October Gallery, London, England; sold to present collection, 2005.

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