The New Orleans Museum of Art presents a major solo exhibition of work by Wangechi Mutu, bringing together nearly one hundred sculptures, paintings, collages, drawings, and films to present the breadth of the Kenyan–American artist’s multidisciplinary practice from the mid-1990s to today. On view January 31–July 14, 2024, Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined traces connections between recent developments in Mutu’s sculptures and her decades-long exploration of the legacies of colonialism, globalization, and African and diasporic cultural traditions. The exhibition travels to NOMA from the New Museum, New York.
The most complete survey of Mutu’s work to date, Intertwined is a rare opportunity to see the range and depth of the artist’s practice across her influential career and to trace the thematic throughlines and progressions in her work. Intertwined draws connections between the artist’s works on paper and her sculptures, featuring some of Mutu’s earliest collages, small-scale sculptures, as well as new and recent works—some made of natural materials sourced in Nairobi such as wood and soil and others cast in bronze.
Mutu first gained acclaim in the late 1990s for her collage-based work exploring camouflage and transformation. She extends these strategies to her work across various media, developing hybrid, fantastical forms that fuse mythical and folkloric narratives with layered social and historical references. Informed in part by her undergraduate training in anthropology and by her experience living and working in New York and Nairobi, Mutu consistently challenges the ways in which cultures and histories have traditionally been classified.
NOMA’s presentation of the exhibition is unique in connecting Mutu’s work inside the museum’s galleries with two sculptures by the artist permanently sited in NOMA’s Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden: The Seated III, 2019, one of four sculptures originally created by Mutu for niches on the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Crocodylus, 2020, an otherworldly femme-reptilian hybrid figure that signals Black feminine power and sovereignty.
Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined is organized by Vivian Crockett (Curator, New Museum) and Margot Norton (Chief Curator, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and former Allen and Lola Goldring Senior Curator, New Museum) with Ian Wallace (Curatorial Assistant, New Museum).
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the New Museum and Phaidon featuring: essays by Tina Campt, Maureen Mahon, and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor; an interview with Mutu by exhibition curators Crockett and Norton; and an artist roundtable moderated by Nana Adusei-Poku with Firelei Báez, Kandis Williams, and Kiyan Williams.
Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined is organized by the New Museum, New York. Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Ed Bradley Family Foundation, Agnes Gund, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by The Robert Lehman Foundation. Support for the accompanying publication has been provided by the A4 Arts Foundation.
Support for the presentation in New Orleans is provided by Delta Airlines and Robin Rankin.
Ink, mica flakes, acrylic, pressure-sensitive film, cut-and-pasted printed paper, and painted paper on paper, diptych
Overall 59 1/8 × 85 in (150.2 × 215.9 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift, 2005. Courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo by Robert Edemeyer
The Seated III
Copyright Wangechi Mutu, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels
Mixed media, ink, spray paint, and collage on Mylar
25 × 21 1/2 in (63.5 × 54.6 cm) 28 1/4 × 24 1/4 in (71.8 × 61.6 cm) framed
Courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, and Victoria Miro Gallery
Watercolor with collage on paper
16 1/8 × 12 1/8 in (40.96 × 30.8 cm) (image), 22 3⁄4 × 18 13/16 × 1 1⁄2 in (57.79 × 47.78 × 3.81 cm) (outer frame)
Minneapolis Institute of Art. Gift of Mary and Bob Mersky. Courtesy the artist and Vielmetter. Los Angeles. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
Plastic, string, paint, shells, and found object
10 3⁄4 × 4 1⁄2 × 4 in (27.3 × 11.4 × 10.2 cm)
Courtesy the artist
The End of carrying All (still)
3-channel animated video, color, sound
Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, Victoria Miro, and Vielmetter Los Angeles
People in Glass Towers Should Not Imagine Us
Mixed media collage on paper, diptych
Overall 140 × 102 in (355.6 × 259.1 cm)
Collection Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn, New York. Courtesy the artist.
Ink, paint, collage, contact paper, and plastic pearls on Mylar
104 × 53 3⁄4 in (264.2 × 136.5 cm)
From the collection of Paul and Linda Gotskind. Courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles