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Maker: Yinka Shonibare
born 1962, England
Wind Sculpture VII
Date: 2016
Medium: Steel armature with hand-painted fiberglass resin cast and gold leaf
Dimensions: H x W (approx): 609.6 × 304.8 cm (240 × 120 in.)
Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds from Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi and Adebayo Ogunlesi, and the Sakana Foundation
Geography: Nigeria
Object Number: 2016-11-1
Search Terms:
geometric motif
Exhibited: ongoing exhibition

"Wind Sculptures …capture the wind to produce something tangible out of the intangible." - Yinka Shonibare MBE, 2014 Yinka Shonibare MBE describes himself as a “postcolonial hybrid.” His stylish and sumptuous works of art, which range from headless mannequins to paintings, photographs, video projection, and now outdoor sculpture, all incorporate the patterns of vibrant textiles that are often called “African print” cloth. Based on Indonesian batiks and manufactured in The Netherlands and Great Britain, then named, worn and sold across western Africa, these textiles speak to the global networks that link us all. For Shonibare, these textiles become a platform with which to rethink history, political and economic entanglements, and the choices we are making for the future. Wind Sculpture VII is the first sculpture installed permanently in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of African art. This unique, gold leaf version of Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Wind Sculptures evokes the sails of ships that have crossed the Atlantic and other oceans to connect nations through the exchange of ideas, products, and people. It captures in its form histories that can be inspiring, brutal, and always complex. It looks to how the opening of the seas led not only to the slave trade and colonization, but also gave rise 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.

Brilliantly colored, vertically oriented outdoor sculpture that looks like a piece of “African print” cloth blowing in the wind. Sculpture stands on one narrow point, and continues to flare until three-quarters of its full height, narrowing again at the top. At both upper and lower tips, the patterning consists of speckled blue medallions set on a hot pink background with swirling red stripes and bordered by one white and one red stripe. A pink stripe also bisects the sculpture just below its widest section. In between the pink areas, the patterning consists of irregular yellow and white webbing with a regular pattern of linked red circles on top. Interlocking rings of gold leaf cover the whole of the sculpture.

Commissioned from the artist, 2016


National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., Museum entrance, installed December 3, 2016


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