Arts + Culture

A Massive Exhibition of Wangechi Mutu's Work Is Heading to the New Museum

An image of Wangechi Mutu's Yo Mama from 2003.
Photo: Courtesy Wangechi Mutu and Vielmetter Los Angeles, taken by Robert Edemeyer

Wangechi Mutu's 'Yo Mama,' 2003.

A specially-commissioned art piece from the Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist will be part of the major overview of her work.

In what is set to be one of the largest showings of the artist's work, the New Museum in New York will present “Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined,” from March 2 – June 4, 2023. The art works will cover the entire museum, occupying the three main floors, including the lobby, and the building’s glass façade, where a new piece that's been commissioned will be displayed.

Earlier this year, eight of Mutu’s sculptures were installed at the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York, showcasing her current practice in earth and bronze material.

Mutu’s upcoming New Museum exhibition is curated by Vivian Crockett, Margot Norton, Allen and Lola Goldring and Ian Wallace. According to the curators, “Intertwined” will chronicle Mutu’s recent sculptural development, and connect it to her long standing expression and exploration of the legacies of colonialism, globalization, in African and diasporic cultural traditions.

The upcoming exhibition will highlight some of Mutu’s earlier art, as well as her most recent artistic outputs, which are primarily made from Nairobi-sourced wood, soil and bronze.

“Intertwined” will give art lovers the opportunity to see and appreciate the thematic progression of Mutu’s work, and get a sense of how New York-based art institutions have influenced the scope of her artistry over time.

Different floors at the museum will carry various parts of Mutu’s multi-dimensional work. The second floor, for example, will draw connections between the artist’s collage-based practice and her work in sculpture, including 'Yo Mama' (2003), originally commissioned by the New Museum in 2003 for the exhibition “Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.”

This exhibition on the second floor will also underscore some of her more recent work, which experiments with collages in corporeal, mechanical, and botanical forms. The third floor will continue to explore the fluidity of Mutu’s work and how her pieces have evolved over time.

The fourth floor will tie a collection of Mutu’s collages from the 'Subterranea' series (2021–22) with her most recent large scale bronze art.

In a statement, Crockett said Mutu’s work has wrestled with themes and complex artistic principles that make it even more important for the future of art as a whole. “Mutu’s work has long been characterized by a sense of permeable boundaries and hybridity, invested in the complex encounters of bodies, sites, and structures. Her work grapples with contemporary realities and proffers new models for a radically changed future informed by feminism, Afrofuturism, and interspecies symbiosis,” said Crockett.

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