The Seated I, 2019
79 1/8 × 31 3/4 × 42 1/4 in
(201 × 80.6 × 107.3 cm, 13470.625oz.)
The Seated I, 2019
Celestial and humanoid, each sculpture is unique, with individualized hands, facial features, ornamentation, and patination. Mutu's embellishments take a great deal of inspiration from customs practiced by specific groups of high-ranking African women. The horizontal and vertical coils that sheathe the figures' bodies, functioning as garment and armor all in one, reference beaded bodices and circular necklaces, while the polished discs set into different parts of the sculptures' heads allude to lip plates. Belonging to no one time or place, Mutu's hybrid figures are invariably stately, resilient, and self-possessed. They announce their authority and autonomy.
Born in Nairobi in 1972 and trained in sculpture at Yale, from which she received her MFA in 2000, Wangechi Mutu is one of the most distinguished artists of her generation. She has achieved critical acclaim for her haunting, otherworldly collage-paintings, art films, live performances, and sculptures. Comprised of either bronze or organic materials, Mutu's three-dimensional work depicts formidable figures referencing modern and classical mythologies that conflate the histories and sculptural traditions of Africa and Europe. Like her collage-paintings, Mutu's sculptures reflect critically on social and ecological injustices and inequalities. Female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all her ideas, as evident in the completed work.
Her work has been the subject of numerous solo shows, including Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, which traveled to the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina; Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami; and Block Museum, Evanston, Illinois. Other solo exhibitions include those at SITE, Santa Fe; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin; Wiels Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels; Art Gallery of Ontario; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Kunsthalle Wien; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Mutu is the recipient of Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year award, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Award, and the American Federation of Arts’ Leadership Award. M...Read more