NYC | New York: Wangechi Mutu at The New Museum, The Met and 11 Howard
Culturalee visited the The New Museum in NYC to see the incredible Wangechi Mutu solo exhibition, featuring over 100 works from her 25 year career. Founded in 1977, The New Museum, designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, is located on Bowery and is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum.
The exhibition curated by Margot Norton, Chief Curator, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Vivian Crockett, Curator, with curatorial assistant Ian Wallace demonstrated the astonishing range of Mutu’s artistic practice, encompassing collage, painting, drawing, sculpture, film and performance.
Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi) first gained critical acclaim for her collage-based artworks which explore themes of gender, feminism, transformation, globalization, colonialism and the Afrian disapora. Her hybrid forms often appear in human-beast form, magical apparitions which combine mythological narratives with Afrofuturism and contemporary cultural references.
Culturalee stayed at 11 Howard in Soho, a boutique hotel with a contemporary Danish aesthetic and a covetable art collection curated by owner Aby Rosen and creative director Anda Andrei. Housed in a former post office, the hotel’s interiors are an exercise in Scandinavian minimalism, with pops of colour provided by artworks by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dan Attoe, Holly Fowler and Alexander Calder. There is also an element of philanthropy and the hotel donates a portion of revenue to the Global Poverty Project, a non-profit aimed at reducing extreme poverty. Le Coucou, the hotel’s restaurant from restaurateur Stephen Starr and Chef Daniel Rose, was a location for Netflix hit ‘Inventing Anna’ and is a must for a taste of Gallic dining in the Big Apple.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an unmissable uptown NYC art experience, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of treasures spanning over 5,000 years. Founded in 1870, The Met has amassed a vast collection of objects from all corners of the world and representing multiple cultures. There is something for everyone here, although it’s impossible to see even a fraction of the collection in one day. The Met’s collection of ancient Egyptian art alone consists of around 26,000 objects dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period.
The Met’s roots date back to Paris in 1866 when a group of Americans agreed to create a ‘national institution and gallery of art’ to bring art and art education to American.
Culturalee’s highlights included; The African Origin of Civilization, Art of Native America, The Temple of Dendur (built about 15 BC to honour the Goddess Isis), Richard Avedon ‘Murals’ and ‘Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room’. Avedon’s ‘Murals’ marked the centenary of the photographer’s birth, and featured vast monochrome prints of iconic figures from early 1970s New York society including Andy Warhol and characters from his Factory.
Virginia Hamilton’s legendary retellings of the Flying African tale inspired the exhibition’s title ‘Before Yesterday We Could Fly’. The exhibition explores the significance of spirituality and mysticism to Black communities in the midst of great uncertainty, and is presented through, vision, sound and storytelling, and furnished with works from The Met’s collection including Bamileke beadwork and 19th-century American ceramics. ‘Before Yesterday We Could Fly’ also features new acquisitions made specifically for the project including; Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Fabiola Jean-Louis and Jenn Nkiru.