Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu makes history with art exhibition at New York museum

Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu makes history with art exhibition at New York museum

Wangechi Mutu in her Brooklyn studio in August. On September 9, she took over the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s facade. PHOTO | SUNNY SHOKRAE | NYT

Kenyan contemporary visual artist Wangechi Mutu made history when her four majestic sculptures were unveiled at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York City.

This is the first time ever in the Museum’s 117-year history that an installation has been made at the entrance of the historical building.

Ms Mutu’s commissioned project, The NewOnes, will free Us, features four bronze sculptures, titled The Seated I, II, III, and IV (2019). They will be exhibited until January 12, 2020.

In their website, The Met said of Ms Mutu’s work: “As with all of her work, these pieces engage in a critique of gender and racial politics that is as pointed as it is poetic and fantastic.

“With The NewOnes, will free Us, the artist has reimagined a motif common to the history of both Western and African art: the caryatid, a sculpted figure, almost always female, meant to serve as a means of either structural or metaphorical support.”

Plasticine maquette models of the ornamented
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Plasticine maquette models of the ornamented figures IN artist Wangechi Mutu’s studio in Brooklyn on August 26, 2019. PHOTO | SUNNY SHOKRAE | NYT
Ms Mutu, known primarily for her painting, sculpture, film and performance work, in a career spanning over 20 years, said in a statement:

“The poised, stately figures I have created…derive inspiration from my interest in ancient and modern practices that reflect on the relationship between women and power across various traditions… They have come to look and bear witness, and to reflect back to us what we are.”

This important installation is part of a new series of contemporary commissions at The Met in which the Museum invites artists to create new works of art inspired by the collection, establishing a dialogue between the artist’s work, the collection, the space, and audiences.

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