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"The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” Might Not Hold True For Much Longer

© Njideka Akunyili. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

"The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” Might Not Hold True For Much Longer

Artist: Njideka Akunyili Crosby (born in Enugu, Nigeria, 1983)
Culture: Nigerian; American
Date: 2013
Medium: Acrylic and transfers on paper
Image/Sheet: 64 × 82 7/8 inches (162.6 × 210.5 cm), Frame: 71 1/2 x 90 1/2 x 2 1/8 inches
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Marjorie (P’16, P’19, P’19) and Michael Levine (B.S.’84, P’16, P’19, P’19)
Label Text:In this work, Njideka Akunyili Crosby combines Xerox transfers of images pulled from popular Nigerian magazines, family photos, album covers, and other sources in a unique approach to collage. These pictures appear almost as projections or shadows on the surface of a rug, table leg, radiator, and baseboard. Their ghost-like, transparent quality makes them seem as if they could be the embodiments of the thoughts and memories floating through the mind of the woman sitting on the floor with her back to the viewer.

The first half of this work’s title—The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born—comes from the title of a 1968 novel by Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Arman. The “Beautyful Ones” in this book have been interpreted to be those who were willing to stand up to the rampant corruption that made up post-independence African politics in the mid- to late 1960s. By stating that this phrase “might not hold true for much longer,” Akunyili suggests that people who are willing to stand up to corruption have been born and are ready to take action. This implies that change might be on the way for a more hopeful future.

Provenance: Purchased by donor from the Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (2013). Marianne Boesky Gallery acquired the work directly from the artist.
Object number: 2016.21.1