Photo by Ralph Lauer
She sits erect, her gaze held steady over the reflecting pond at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Her official name is The Seated III, and she arrived at the museum in late December, the newest addition to the Modern’s permanent collection. The bronze sculpture weighs in at about 855 pounds and is the work of artist Wangechi Mutu, who splits her time between Nairobi and Brooklyn. The Seated III is part of a four-sculpture commission titled The NewOnes, will free Us for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The 2019 works were the first to fill the Met’s large art-ready niches on either side of the front door. Two of the four works are now in the New York museum’s permanent collection, with a third finding a home in Fort Worth. Mutu’s work is her reinterpretation of a female load-bearer of ancient times, also known as a caryatid, which typically were carved of wood or stone. Load-bearers acted as pillars supporting buildings in lieu of columns; in African architecture, they typically were found holding royal stools meant for kings. The seated cast bronze female figure is embellished by thick, undulating coils and is crowned by a disc commonly worn by high-ranking African women. In sunlight, the patinaed finish gives it an ethereal effect. Although this woman bears no weight, she does exude calm while radiating strength and power. The Seated III is now on view on the first floor at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., 817-738-9215, themodern.org.