18. El Anatsui
Exhibitions: Installation TSIATSIA-searching for a connection at the Royal Academy of Art (May 22 - August 18, 2013), "Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui" at the Brooklyn Museum (February 8 - August 4, 2013), Broken Bridge II on the New York's High Line (Summer, 2013)
El Anatsui's glittering tapestries put anyone else who has tried to turn trash into treasure to shame. His enormous, colorful work TSIATSIA-searching for a connection was made up of woven pieces of garbage, including everything from discarded birth announcements to liquor labels, which transformed into a monumental shimmering drapery.
The impressive installation was followed by an overwhelmingly popular exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, which showcased more of the Nigerian artist's recycled works. The bottoms of cans were strung together and snaked along the floor while linked bottle caps hovered over the museum like lace.
El Anatsui also received prime real estate on the High Line for a work made up of corroded metal and cracked mirrors. The New York Times critic Holland Cotter wrote of the installation, "An immense, pieced-together mural made partly of mirrorlike material, it gives a narcissistic city and art world capital a fractured, yet sky-flooded view of itself." While El Anatsui may not have been a household name until this year, this certainly won't be the last time that the international art world finds themselves getting familiar with, and needing to get re-familiar with him and his work. -Leigh Silver