Wangechi Mutu portrait, 2012 - Photo by Kathryn Parker Almanas

Wangechi Mutu

Kenya 1972

Installation, Sculpture, Painting, Collage, Drawing, Assemblage Art

Wangechi Mutu
Wangechi Mutu
April 18, 2017
Bojan is an author for Widewalls. He is particularly interested in English linguistics and culture. Bojan is also interested in Photography and Digital Art.

Wangechi Mutu is a multimedia Kenyan artist, one of the most praised and significant diasporic African artists on the contemporary scene. In the mixed media of animated movies, installations, painting, and collage she is incorporating African imagery and addressing themes such as feminism, colonialism, violence, ecology, technology, consumption and metamorphosis. The notion of the female body – the racial, gender and cultural tropes imposed on it – is the theme she is obsessive about, featuring as the measuring device for detecting the health of the society. Even though Wangechi Mutu’s art renders the same themes, it is not stagnant at all, rather, it’s eroticism is seductive, provocative and unsettling with a mysterious and grotesque flare about it.

in 2013 and 2006 the museum gallery will use history
Wangechi Mutu – The Ark Collection, 2006 – Image via tomboybklyn

Hybridity and In-betweenness of African Females in Wangechi Mutu’s Art

Wangechi Mutu is born in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya and based in Brooklyn, New York. After education in Wales in the 90s, she decided to leave her homeland and come to live and work in New York, in order to develop her artistic career. She enrolled in the Fine Arts and Anthropology at The New School for Social Research and Parsons School of Art and Design, after which she graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of the Arts and Science in 1996, and in 2000 attained a master’s degree from Yale University. Her work belongs to the Afrofuturism movement in its imagining alternative histories of African people. She is exploring the in-betweens of her position of being a female African in America, the hybridity of her culture and the culture in which she lives and works and the issues of invisibility of women like her. Wangechi Mutu’s art is thus thickly connected with activism and she refers to it functioning as a kind of spell – Art allows you to imbue the truth with a sort of magic… so it can infiltrate the psyches of more people, including those who don’t believe the same things as you.

Bodies of woman in motion the world depends on according to Wangechi Mutu

in 2013 and 2012 the history museum themes are in mixed media
Wangechi Mutu – A Long Question, 2015 (Left) / Automatic Hip, 2015 (Right) – Images via tomboybklyn

Wangechi Mutu’s Collage Art

She became widely known for her complex, multilayered collage work of mixed media like paper and painting – she started making from ethnographic photography, magazine pornography, 19th-century medical illustrations, many other magazine materials that are present in everyday lives. In the process, she is cutting, opening up, and selecting body parts – a destructive and surgical process she uses for destroying the set of hierarchies she doesn’t believe in. In these fragmented images where one doesn’t know where something starts and where it begins, where the notions of origins and originals are deconstructed, the theme of violence is metaphorically being reproduced – the spectators are exposed to the traces of violence on amputated human bodies. Wangechi Mutu sees her art as her own translations of images of bodies of women in motion on which the world depends. She is inspired by great women figures such as Tina Turner, Nina Simone, Josephine Baker and the stereotypes that she harvests for her own purposes. Her collages can be compared to the works of Hannah Hoch’s or Romare Bearden’s.

Art allows you to imbue the truth with a sort of magic

for the use of paper in her work contact the museum, gladstone gallery and the university
Wangechi Mutu – Forbidden Fruit Picker, 2015 – Image via tomboybklyn

Wangechi Mutu’s Major Exhibitions

Wangechi Mutu is prolific in other mediums she uses. Critics are praising her haunting and impressive installations, such as She’s got the whole world in her, made for Venice Biennale 2015, her pieces for the exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery 2014 in London named Nguva na Nyoka (or Sirens and Serpents), her short animated movie with Santigold in 2013 entitled The End of Eating Everything showed at Duke University and the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the exhibition A fantastic journey at The Brooklyn Museum in 2013. In 2017, the Gladstone Gallery opened her new exhibition named Ndoro na Miti which stands for trees and mud, the main used materials for her new art. Fluctuating from folklore, medicine, botanical, animal, pornography and fashion images, Wangeshi Mutu creates a highly sophisticated yet very approachable and vivid art that communicate easily with everyone. Arguing that art shouldn’t be restricted to the elite of educated spectators and the ones capable of possessing it Mutu transcends the economic, cultural, racial and gender limits, creating daring and sublime pieces rendering strong woman that are maneuvering the world beautifully.

Wangechi Mutu lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Featured image: Wangechi Mutu – Portrait of the artist – Image courtesy of the

2017“Wangechi Mutu,” The Contemporary Austin , Austin, TXSolo
2017“Wangechi Mutu,” Lehmann Maupin, Hong KongSolo
2017Ndoro Na Miti, Gladstone Gallery, New YorkSolo
2017“The White Hunter: African Memories and Representations,” FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy -groupSolo
2016SITE 20 Years 20 Shows Spring 2016 Site Santa Fe, NMSolo
2016 Making & Unmaking Camden Art Centre, London, UKGroup
2016 L'image volée Fondazione Prada, Milan, ItalyGroup
2016Making Africa CCCB Barcelona, SpainGroup
2016I Prefer Life Weserburg Bremen, Germany Group
2015Wangechi Mutu Il Capricorno, Venice, ItalySolo
2015 NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection Rubell Family Collection, Miami,United States Group
2015Picasso.mania, Grand Palais Galeries nationales, Paris, France Group
2015Us Is Them Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH (2015 – 2016)Group
2015European Ghosts – the representation of art from Africa in the twentieth century Kunstmuseum aan zee,Ostend, Belgium (2015 – 2016)Group
2015The School of Kyiv Kyiv Biennial 2015, Kyiv, UkraineGroup
2015All the World’s futures 56th International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Venice Biennale, VeniceGroup
2015Africa: Architecture, Culture and Identity Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, DenmarkGroup
2015Hello Walls Gladstone Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2015Portraits and Other Liknesses from SFMoMA Musuem of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CAGroup
2015The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DCGroup
2015Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne The Nasher Museum, Ohio StateGroup
2015UknownUniversity Urban Arts Space, OhioGroup
2015UknownUniversity, New YorkGroup
2015Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, GermanyGroup
2015The Grace Jones Project Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CAGroup
2015Meet me Halfway: Selections from the Anita Reiner Collection Cristin Tierney Gallery, New YorkGroup
2015Spatial Stories: Topographies of Change in Africa Center for Visual Art, The Metropolitan State University of Denver, ColoradoGroup
2015Eureka: Carte Blanche to Kendell Geers Galerist, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2014 Nguva na Nyoka (Sirens and Serpents) Victoria Miro Gallery, LondonSolo
2014 Hidden and Revealed Angles Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2014 – 2015)Group
2014Herland, Deutsche Bank, New York, NYGroup
2014Made by Brazilians…Creative Invasion Sáo Paulo, BrazilGroup
2014King’s County Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2014Divine Comedy MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; touring to SCAD, Savannah, Georgia, andGroup
2014UnknownSmithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.Group
2014Death is Your Body Frankfurter Kunstverein, FrankfurtGroup
2014Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, ChicagoGroup
2014Holding it Together Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2014Conflict: Contemporary responses to war UQ Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane, AustraliaGroup
2014Interrupting Entropy: Selections from the Betlach Collection University Library, Santa Clara University,Santa Clara, CaliforniaGroup
2014Bash: An Exhibition in Two Parts curated by Daniel Mason, MaxArt, Woodstock, New YorkGroup
2014We Live in Brooklyn Baby Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2014Dak’Art, 11th Dakar Biennial Dakar, SenegalGroup
2014UnknownCinemAfrica Film Festival, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2014Broadway Billboard: A Sunset Satire Socrates Sculpture Park, New YorkGroup
2014Haute Africa Fotofestival Knokke-Heist, Knokke-Heist, BelgiumGroup
2014Bad Conscience curated by John Miller, Metro Pictures, New YorkGroup
2014Pace Gems: Selections from the Linda Pace Foundation’s Permanent Collection SPACE Gallery, San AntonioGroup
2013Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North CarolinaSolo
2013Wangechi Mutu Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, AustraliaSolo
2013Wangechi Mutu, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PASolo
2013Personal Choice Galleria Il Capricorno, VeniceGroup
2013The Shadows Took Shape Studio Museum, New YorkGroup
2013Unkown5th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art, MoscowGroup
2013African Contemporary Art Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de JaneiroGroup
2013Cinematic Visions: Painting at the Edge of Reality Victoria Miro, LondonGroup
2013Aquatopia Nottingham Contemporary United Kingdom; Tate St. Ives, United KingdomGroup
2013Migrating Identities Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2013Sakahan (To light a Fire) National Gallery of Canada, Ontario, CanadaGroup
2013A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial International Center of Photography, New York, NYGroup
2013Broken Memories Museu AfroBrasil, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2013Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa National Museum of African Art,Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.Group
2013Seismic Shifts: 10 Visionaries in Contemporary Art and Architecture National Academy Museum, New York, NYGroup
2012 Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects Los Angeles, United States Solo
2012Wangechi Mutu Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal (February 2 - April 22)Solo
2012The Undreamt Descent Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden, GermanySolo
2012blackthrones Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Brussels, BelgiumSolo
2012UnkownKochi-Muziris Biennale, IndiaGroup
2012NetJets Collectors Cocktail Installation Art Basel Miami Beach, FLGroup
2012Visions of Our 44th President Wright Museum, Detroit, MIGroup
2012Following the Line The Girl’s Club, Fort Lauderdale, FLGroup
2012There is No Archive in Which Nothing is Lost Glassell School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TXGroup
2012The Soul of a City: Memphis Collects African American Art Brooks Art Museum, Memphis TNGroup
2012Wangechi Mutu KAWS, Jeff Sonhouse, Wim Delvoye, Gallery Zidoun, LuxembourgGroup
2012Twisted Sisters Dodge Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2012All That Glitters Palazzo Contarini Michiel, Venice, Italy.Group
2012Intense Proximity La Triennale at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, April 19 - August 26, 2012Group
2012Earth Matters Exhibit Smithsonian Institution, New York, United States, April 22Group
2012The Virgins Show (curated by Marilyn Minter), Family Business, New York, US,Group
2011Wangechi Mutu Il Capricorno, Venice, ItalySolo
2011 Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale Incheon, South Korea Group
2010Hunt Bury Flee Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2010My Dirty Little Heaven Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, travelling to Wiels Contemporary Museum,Brussels, BelgiumSolo
2010This You Call Civilization? Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario, CanadaSolo
2010 Disquieted: Contemporary Voices from Out of the Shadows Portland Art Museum, Oregon Group
2009Uknown Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CASolo
2009 Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women, and Art Art Work for Change and the Tides CenterGroup
2008UnkownKarlsplatz, Curated by Angela Stief, Vienna, AustriaSolo
2008In Whose Image? Kunsthalle Wien Museum, Project Space Vienna, AustriaSolo
2008Little Touched Susanne Vielmetter Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2008Damaged Romanticism: A Mirror of Modern Emotion Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston, TXGroup
2007 Yo.n.I Victoria Miro, LondonSolo
2007Cleaning Earth Franklin Artworks, Minneapolis, MNSolo
2007The Cinderella Curse ACA Gallery, Woodruff Art Centre, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah,GASolo
2007 Paper Baglady and Other Stories Timothy Taylor Gallery, London Group
2006 An Alien Eye and Other Killah Anthems Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY Solo
2006Exhuming Gluttony: A Lover’s Requiem Salon 94, New York, NY Solo
2006leeping Heads Lie Power House, Memphis, TN Solo
2006 (Re)Volver Plataforma Revolver, Representing Kenya, Lisboa, Portugal Group
2005 New Work: The Chief Lair’s A Holy MessThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CASolo
2005Cut Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects, Culver City, CA Group
2004Hangin’ in Texas Art Pace, San Antonio, TX Solo
2004 Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora Canbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MIGroup
2003 Pagan Poetry Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2003 Only Skin Deep, International Center of Photography curated by Coco Fusco, New York, NYGroup
2002UnknownArt Basel Miami Beach, Miami, FLGroup
2001 Fusion MoCada, New York, NYGroup
2000 The Magic City Brent Sikkema, New York, NYGroup
1999 Surely it Can’t Burn so Long Rush Arts Gallery, New YorkSolo
1999UnknownRush Arts Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1998In Coming Art & Architecture Gallery, New Haven CTGroup
1997Life’s Little Necessities Johannesburg Biennale, The Castle,Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
1996 One Voice 7th Gallery, Cooper Union, New YorkGroup