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Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British, born 1962)
Three Graces, 2000, printed cotton textile, three fiberglass mannequins, three aluminum bases.
Purchased with funds from the Alice Speed Stoll Accessions Trust 2002.6 a-c

Yinka Shonibare is known for using the colorful 'African' print fabrics known as Dutch Wax in his work, which explores issues of race and class through a variety of media. "But actually,” as Shonibare says, “the fabrics are not really authentically African the way people think. They prove to have a crossbred cultural background quite of their own. And it’s the fallacy of that signification that I like. It’s the way I view culture—it’s an artificial construct." Three Graces is based on a photograph of three women that the artist found in the archives of the Hendrik Christian Anderson Museum in Rome. The headless sculptures are clothed in Edwardian dress, but Dutch Wax has been substituted for the original fabric. The title Three Graces alludes to the Classical Greek goddesses of charm, beauty and creativity. By dressing representations of these ideals in a fabric whose origins are a cultural hybrid, Shonibare questions our notions of the nature and source of these graces.




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