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Wangechi Mutu, Man-eating lizard, 2012. Collage on paper, 19 1/4 × 15 1/4 inches (48.9 × 38.74 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Trent Carmichael, 2021.8.1. © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.
Wangechi Mutu, Man-eating lizard, 2012. Collage on paper, 19 1/4 × 15 1/4 inches (48.9 × 38.74 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Trent Carmichael, 2021.8.1. © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Wangechi Mutu is well known for her spectacular and provocative collages depicting hybrid female figures in otherworldly landscapes. She uses the feminine form to investigate and critique issues ranging from colonialism to displacement, ritual, perceptions of Africa and the eroticization of the Black female body. Combining decorative materials and magazine cutouts, she samples liberally from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry and science fiction. The composite women who inhabit her work, like the one in Man-eating lizard, are both beautifully grotesque and unnervingly alluring, pieced together with parts human, animal, plant, machine and monster.

In this work, a lizard-woman sits on a tree branch and appears to consume the historical image of a white male. Magazine cutouts of a motorcycle, African beading, leaves and a skull with pelt address the conflicting cultural projections related to race and gender found so often in her art.

This collage was included in Mutu’s solo exhibition Nitarudi Ninarudi I plan to return I am returning at Vielmetter Los Angeles in 2012, in which the artist explored concepts around home and exile and a resulting sense of dual existence. It was exhibited next to Family Tree, a 13-part collage installation on view in the Nasher’s 2013 survey Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey that is now part of the Nasher’s collection. Together, the collages offer a larger view of this particular body of work by the artist and are representative of her long-standing interest in transformation, adaptation, and misplaced notions of singular identity.

This collage is the fourth work by Mutu to enter the Nasher’s collection, joining Family Tree, as well as a video and the bronze sculpture MamaRay, commissioned by the Nasher last year.

In the gallery below, several works from the collection pair well with Mutu’s collage, Man-eating lizard.

Learn more about the contemporary collection.

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