Story of Kenyan Whose Art Work Was Acquired by Ksh450 Billion US Museum

  • A collage image of Wangechi Mutu (left) and the seating II sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (right).
    A collage image of Wangechi Mutu (left) and the seated II sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (right).
    Art Space/ New York Times
  • Along the corridors of the Metropolitan (MET) Museum of Art in New York, two sculptures by Wangechi Mutu dominate the Ksh450 billion landmark building.

    The two sculptures named the Seated I and Seated III were acquired by the museum in 2020.

    The move by the museum founded in 1870 to acquire the sculptures was informed by the Kenyan's immense talent whose work has been recognised globally.

    Additionally, the MET museum indicated that it was fascinated by the story behind the two sculptures that hold a powerful significance in African culture.

    Sculpture by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu showcasing at the Storm King Art Center to Frank Stella at The Ranch
    Sculpture by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu showcasing at the Storm King Art Center to Frank Stella at The Ranch
    Courtesy D’Angelo Lovell Williams via New York Times

    "Mutu’s bronze sculptures known as the Seated I, II, III, and IV—depict four otherworldly female figures. Simultaneously celestial and humanoid, each sculpture is unique, with individualized hands, facial features, ornamentation, and patination. 

    "She stages a feminist intervention, liberating the caryatid from her traditional duties and reimagining her as an independent force, a queen in her own right," MET stated

    However, despite her incredible artwork being displayed on the global scene, Mutu's artwork is credited to her childhood in Nairobi.

    Born in 1972, the artist was nurtured in art by her father who often gave her materials for drawing and art.

    However, her travels to Europe for studies and work shaped her skills and opened a wide range of opportunities for her.

    "In 1989, she left to attend the United World College of the Atlantic in St. Donats,Wales. 

    "After a brief return home in 1991, she moved to New York City, where she studied at Parsons School of Design and then Cooper Union in 1996," read a statement by Britannica.

    She is a holder of a master's degree from Yale University

    In her over 20-year career, Mutu has made several milestones such as making history in June when her work was showcased at the Storm King Art Center.

    Other awards she had bagged include the United States Artist Grant, the Brooklyn Museum's Artist of the Year Award and the Deutsche Bank's first Artist of the Year among others.

    Despite spending part of her time in the US, Mutu has a studio in Nairobi which she started in 2016 where she continues to create her art while back home.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
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