Jul 29, 2020
News

The Metropolitan Museum acquired two of the statues Wangechi Mutu created for its façade.

Wangechi Mutu, The Seated I, 2019. Work of art © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Hazen Polsky Foundation Fund and Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, in celebration of the Museum's 150th Anniversary, 2020. Photo by Bruce Schwarz.

Wangechi Mutu, The Seated I, 2019. Work of art © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Hazen Polsky Foundation Fund and Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, in celebration of the Museum's 150th Anniversary, 2020. Photo by Bruce Schwarz.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it has acquired two sculptures by Wangechi Mutu that have adorned its façade since September. The bronze statues, The Seated I (2019) and The Seated III (2019), are part of Mutu’s four-piece series titled “The NewOnes, will free Us,” which was created for the Met's inaugural façade commission. The full series of four sculptures will remain on view until November 2020.
Mutu has used “The NewOnes, will free Us” to rethink the caryatid — a type of sculpture that usually depicts a female figure as supporting a structure, like a pillar — that is found throughout both Western and African art history. Rather than depict the figures as load-bearing characters, Mutu sculpted four individual figures, each with distinguished limbs and adornment.
The Met’s director, Max Hollein, said in a press release:
Wangechi Mutu’s sculptures for The Met’s facade have an extraordinary presence and poetic brilliance, and they offer an empowering statement as well as a critical institutional perspective for all to witness. In addition to the thousands who have experienced these outstanding works while entering and exiting the Museum, countless others have continued to enjoy the installation even after The Met temporarily closed its doors in March.
Wangechi Mutu, The Seated III, 2019. Work of art © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Women and the Critical Eye Gifts and Janet Lee Kadesky Ruttenberg Fund, in memory of William S. Lieberman, and in celebration of the Museum's 150th Anniversary, 2020. Photo by Bruce Schwarz, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wangechi Mutu, The Seated III, 2019. Work of art © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Women and the Critical Eye Gifts and Janet Lee Kadesky Ruttenberg Fund, in memory of William S. Lieberman, and in celebration of the Museum's 150th Anniversary, 2020. Photo by Bruce Schwarz, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met has not yet determined how the sculptures will be exhibited inside the museum. They are the second and third works by Mutu to join the museum’s permanent collection; last year the institution acquired her monumental diptych collage My Strength Lies (2006). In June, the Met announced that it will reopen its doors on August 29th pending approval from local and state officials.