News Releases

National Museum of African Art Will Be Home to New Landmark Sculpture on the National Mall

Museum Acquires Yinka Shonibare MBE’s “Wind Sculpture VII” As a Permanent Outdoor Artwork

December 1, 2016

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art announced the acquisition and permanent installation of sculpture “Wind Sculpture VII” by celebrated contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. “Wind Sculpture VII” will make its Smithsonian debut Saturday, Dec. 3; it will be installed in front of the National Museum of African Art between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Part of a series of seven individually designed sculptures, “Wind Sculpture VII” is the first artwork installed permanently in front of the museum. Constructed from fiberglass, this unique, gold-leaf version of Shonibare’s Wind Sculptures series evokes the sails of ships that have crossed the Atlantic and other oceans, connecting nations through the exchange of ideas, products and people. In its form, it captures histories that can be inspiring or brutal but always complex. It suggests that the opening of the seas led not only to the slave trade and colonization but also to the dynamic contributions of Africans and African heritage worldwide. Using yellow, blue, rose and gold, Shonibare celebrates the African men, women and children who have shaped the United States, Great Britain and other nations of today and for the future.

“The museum is proud to present this stunning and monumental public sculpture at the museum,” said Karen Milbourne, curator and project lead. “This work of art will transform the façade of our museum and pay tribute to the connections between Africa and America. The patterns emblazoned on this sculpture replicate so-called ‘African print cloth,’ which are in fact based on Indonesian batiks manufactured in the Netherlands and United Kingdom, and then exported to West Africa where they have become synonymous with African identity. Shonibare draws on this entangled history to direct attention to the global connections that unite individuals and communities worldwide. Africa’s global connections and the vision of its artists are the focus of this national museum; this sculpture will inspire visitors and spark conversation.”

Facts about “Wind Sculpture VII”:

  • The work weighs 899 pounds
  • It took seven people one month to paint and gild the sculpture
  • The structure is 20 feet tall and 10 feet, 6 inches wide
  • Only about a 7-inch-diameter point of the sculpture touches the ground

Support

Sponsorship for “Wind Sculpture VII” is provided by Bayo Ogunlesi and Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi and the Sakana Foundation.

About Yinka Shonibare MBE

Throughout the past decade, Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalization. Working in painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity. Through sharp political commentary of the interrelationships between Africa and Europe’s economic and political histories and wry citations of Western art history and literature, Shonibare questions the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities.

Shonibare was born in the United Kingdom in 1962 and moved to Lagos, Nigeria, at the age of 3. He returned to London to receive his MFA from Goldsmiths College, a part of the “Young British Artists” generation. He gained notoriety on the international stage via his commission for Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 10 and was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a title that he officially added on his professional name. His works were featured in the 52nd Venice Biennale and a major mid-career survey toured 2008-09. In 2011, the artist’s sculpture “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” was selected for Trafalgar Square’s prestigious commission series. Shonibare’s works are included in many prestigious public collections spanning the globe. He currently lives and works in London’s East End.

About the National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is America’s only major museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. For more information about this program, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website at africa.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

For media requests or to attend the installation, contact Eddie Burke at (202) 633-4660 or burkee@si.edu.

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SI-615-2016

Media only 
Eddie Burke 
(202) 633-4660 
burkee@si.edu 

Portrait of artist Yinka Shonibare
Related photos: 

Wind Sculpture VII

Artists representation of sculpture installed outside African Art Museum

James Cohan Gallery, New York.

A rendering of Yinka Shonibare’s "Wind Sculpture VII" installed outside of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art.

Image via James Cohan Gallery, New York.
 

Related photos: 

Yinka Shonibare

Portrait of artist Yinka Shonibare in studio

Marcus Leith

Yinka Shonibare MBE. Photograph by Marcus Leith<



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