Exhibitions: Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE (b. United Kingdom, 1962). Leisure Lady (with Ocelots), 2001. Life-size fiberglass mannequin, three fiberglass ocelots, Dutch wax printed cotton, leather, glass. Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium. Image courtesy of the artist; James Cohan Gallery, New York; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. © the artist

June 26–September 20, 2009

Period Rooms, 4th Floor
Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor


This exhibition is a major midcareer survey of work by the UK-based Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. Shonibare’s artwork explores contemporary African identity and its relationship to European colonialism through painting, sculpture, installation, and moving image. Shonibare is best known for his work with visual symbols, especially the richly patterned Dutch wax fabric produced in Europe for a West African market that he uses in a wide range of applications. His tableaux of headless mannequins costumed in this fabric evoke themes of history and its legacy for future generations. Through these works he explores the complex web of interactions, both economic and racial, that reveal inequalities between the dominant and colonized cultures of Europe, Asia, and Africa. A site-specific installation created for this presentation titled Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play will be on view in several of the Museum’s period rooms.

Another site-specific installation, Party Time—Re-Imagine America: A Centennial Commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE,  will be on view at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, from July 1, 2009, to January 3, 2010, in the dining room of the museum’s 1885 Ballantine House.


Yinka Shonibare MBE is organized and toured by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia. The exhibition is curated by Rachel Kent.

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Additional support provided by Emily Fisher Landau.

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Exhibition Highlights

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Diary of a Victorian Dandy, 03.00 hours Yinka Shonibare MBE: Scramble for Africa Yinka Shonibare MBE: How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Ladies) Yinka Shonibare MBE: Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America)

Teacher Packet

Exhibition Catalogue

Yinka Shonibare MBE Catalogue