Untitled

Magdalene Odundo, Kenyan, born 1950

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2001

Blackened terracotta

Overall: 22 13/16 × 9 13/16 × 9 13/16 in. (58 × 25 × 25 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Fund and the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund

© Magdalene Odundo

C.2003.50

Geography

Place Made: Kenya, Eastern Africa, Africa

Period

21st century

Object Name

Pottery

Research Area

Africa

Decorative Arts

Not on view

Inscriptions

Signed and dated, on bottom: Odundo / 2001

Label

Using the coiling technique of handbuilding found in pottery traditions around the world, Magdalene Odundo creates thin-walled vessels that defy rational symmetry, pusing the limits of gravity while maintaining beauty, balance, and form. Odundo always casts a keen eye toward the movement and form of the female body in her examinations of female beauty. She considers how it is (re)defined and (re)shaped over time according to specific cultural ideologies. By abstracting the female form into a sensuous dialogue between positive and negative space, her vessels become metaphors of the changing tenets of female beauty. In this untitled work, Odundo reinterprets colonial-era depictions of the "classic" African beauty: the Mangbetu woman. Celebrated for their regal splendor accentuated by an elongated head and haloed coiffeur, Mangbetu women of the colonial era inspired both European and African artistic representations of idealized African beauty.

From the 2019 exhibition Global Contemporary: A Focus on Africa, curated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator of African Art

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Odundo channels her vast understanding of global pottery techniques into smooth, curvaceous ceramic vessels that often symbolize feminine figures. Its shape recalls regal Edamburu hairstyles—an intricately braided crown of hair—worn by Mangebutu women from the Congo and adopted throughout the diaspora as a symbol of pride.

From the 2023 exhibition Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, curated by Alexandra Thomas, Curatorial Research Associate

Course History

WRIT 5, Expository Writing, William Craig, Winter 2014

AAAS 67.5, GEOG 21.01, Black Consciousness and Black Feminisms, Abigail Neely, Winter 2019

THEA 10.64/AAAS 54.05/WGSS 66.15, Feminist and Queer Africa on Stage and Screen, Laura Edmondson, Winter 2022

First Year Student Enrichment Program – Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Colleen Lannon, Summer 2023

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Mokhtar Bouba, Summer 2023

Philosophy 1.11, Art: True, Beautiful, Nasty, John Kulvicki, Summer 2023

Writing 2.05, Why Write, Anyway?, Erkki Mackey, Fall 2023

Writing 5.24, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Fall 2023

Writing 5.25, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Fall 2023

Anthropology 31.01, Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies 36.01, Gender in Cross Cultural Perspectives, Sabrina Billings, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 89.06, Senior Seminar: Theory and Method, Adedoyin Teriba, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 1-August 10, 2008; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, September 10-December 10, 2008; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, January 21-April 26, 2009.

Critical Faculties: Teaching with the Hood's Collections, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 15-March 13, 2005.

Global Contemporary: A Focus on Africa; Dorothy and Churchill Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26-December 8, 2019.

Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, Harteveldt Family Gallery, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, and Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 22, 2023–May 25, 2024.

In Residence: Contemporary Art at Dartmouth, Churchill P. Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 18-July 6, 2014.

Modern and Contemporary Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 26, 2009-March 15, 2010.

Resonance and Inspiration: New Works by Magdalene Odundo [in conjunction with], Gene Y. Kim Class of 1985 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 30-October 14, 2007.

Publication History

Barbara Thompson, "The African Collection at the Hood Museum of Art," African Arts, Volume XXXVII, No. 2, Los Angeles: African Studies Center, University of California, 2004, ill. p. 32; Anthony Slayter-Ralph, "Magdalene Odundo," Hampshire, England & Burlington, Vermont: Lund Humphries Gower House, 2004, p. 122, ill. p. 97, no. 139.

Barbara Thompson, Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Seattle: University of Washington Press [Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College], 2008, p. 319, plate 101.

Brian P. Kennedy and Emily Shubert Burke, Modern and Contemporary Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2009 p.129, no.103.

Michael R. Taylor and Gerald Auten, In Residence: Contemporary Artists at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2013, ill. p. 90, no. 79

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 197, ill. plate no. 128.

Provenance

The artist; Anthony Slayter-Ralph [dealer], Santa Barbara, California; sold to present collection, 2003.

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