An Analysis of Postmodernism in Wangechi Mutu's Paintings (A Contemporary African-American Artist)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Assistant professor, Painting Department , Faculty of art Alzahra university, Tehran, Iran

2 M.A. in Painting, Department of Painting, Faculty of Art, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: The definition of artistic postmodernism has always faced challenges. However, it is possible to obtain a tool for analyzing the postmodernism of artworks in this period by considering components such as eclecticism, pluralism, deconstructionism, and the importance of micro-narratives and subcultures, as well as the identity crisis. In this regard, this research seeks to answer these questions What are the features of Wangechi Mutu's works? What similarities and differences can be found in the works of this artist? How are approaches to Mutu's works’  associated with postmodern keywords?
Research objective: The purpose of this study is to search for and analyze the characteristics of postmodernist art in the works of Wangechi Mutu, a Kenyan female artist living in the United States. Considering the characteristics of her works, this study uses postmodernist tools to interpret them.
Research method: This research described and analyzed a part of Wangechi Mutu's paintings based on the theoretical foundations of postmodern art through a qualitative study.
Conclusion: The results show that the artist has achieved an eclectic and plural expression, both in the structure of her works and in their content, by using visual and conceptual collages and, in general, a collage worldview. In this way, she has succeeded in breaking the foundations of macro narratives and subcultures of women, black people, and immigrants, and was consequently able to relate to the issue of an identity crisis. Mutu’s works are her socio-political statements in which she expresses and critiques the issues of racial and class discrimination in the contemporary world.


Ghaedi Heidari, Z. (2007). Honar-ha-ye tajasomi, rishe-ha-ye honar-e postmodern [Visual Arts: The Roots of Postmodern Art]. Golestaneh, 84(7), 18-25.
Gueorguiev, W. (2011). Reflection on Wangechi Mutu’s Art. In W. Mutu (ed.), The Metropolitan Review. State University of New York: Empire State College, (pp. 42-45).
Hasanvand, M. K. (2018). An Introduction to Postmodernism and Its Manifestation in the Visual Arts. Iranian Scientific Association of Visual Arts, 3(1), 5-20.
Holzwarth, H.W. (ed.) (2009). 100 Contemporary artists. Vol. 2. Köln: Tasche.
Kasfir, S.L. (2007). Africa’s Contemporary Art (A. Hassani Abiz, Trans.). Tehran: Farhangestan-e Honar.
Khalaj, R. (2007). Postmodernism va honar-e Postmodern [Postmodernism and Postmodern Art]. Ketab-e Maah-e Honar, 1 (107-108), 20-27.
Malpas, S. (2007). The Postmodern (H. Sabouri, Trans.). Tabriz: University of Tabriz.
Mohammadi Vakil, M. & Balkhari Ghahi, H. (2017). Essay on presence of the human figure in contemporary arts with emphasis on the theories of Baudrillard. Visual Arts (Fine Arts). 22(2), 9-20.
Namvar Motlagh, B. (2020). Intertextual Collage Aesthetics. Kimiya-ye-Honar, 9(36), 25-36.
Nazari, P. (2017). Components of Postmodern Art (Unpublished Master Thesis in Philosophy). Faculty of Literature and Foreign Languages, Department of Philosophy, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran.
Nozari, H. (2006). An Analytical Study of the Concept of Identity Evolution in the Tripartite Molds of Traditional, Modern, and Post-modern Identities. National Studies Journal, 7(26), 127-148.
Nozari, H. (2009). Postmodernity and postmodernism.Tehran: Naghsh-e Jahan.
Qarabaghi, A. (1999). Genealogy of Postmodernism: (Pluralism). Golestaneh, 13(1), 45-53.
Razi Aliaei, B. & Hasanvand, M.K. (2006). Characteristics of Postmodernism in Painting. Journal of Jelve-y Honar, 26(15), 45-56.
Shad Ghazvini, P. (2013). Contemporary painting of west: from Art Nouveau to post – modernism. Tehran: Organization for the Study and Compilation of Humanities Books of Universities.
Soheili Rad, F. (2014). Honar-e mafhoumi [Conceptual Art, Part One]. Chideman, 3(7), 120-125.
Swami, K. (2013). Destabilizing the Sign: The Collage Work of Ellen Gallagher, Wangechi Mutu, and Mickalene Thomas (Unpublished M.A. Thesis in Art History). Faculty  of Art History, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.
Ward, G. (2014). Postmodernism (Q. Fakhr Ranjbari & A. Karami, Trans.). Tehran: Mahi Publishing.
Zadmehr, N. & Mohammadi Vakil, M. (2019). Comparative Study of Uncertainty Characteristic in the Works of Two Contemporary Artists (Damien Hirst and Michael Borremans). Motaleat-e Tatbighi-e Honar, 8(16), 14-1.