Mrinalini Mukherjee. Yakshi. 1984

Mrinalini Mukherjee Yakshi 1984

  • Not on view

Yakshi is one of Mukherjee’s signature monumental, freestanding, sensually tactile abstract sculptures. To make this work, she knotted dyed hemp, a natural material sourced in her native India, and wound it around a hidden metal armature to create a form that generally suggests a female body. The title situates this reference more specifically: Yakshi is a female forest deity in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain faiths. A symbol of fertility, Yakshi is traditionally portrayed with voluptuous hips, a narrow waist, broad shoulders, and exaggerated breasts. These telltale attributes are evident in Mukherjee’s depiction, yet the overall form remains resolutely abstract. Light passes through tiny perforations between knots and through apertures where knotted passages link, imbuing a paradoxical airiness into the hulking structure and heightening its erotic charge.

Trained as a painter, Mukherjee turned to natural fibers such as jute and hemp in the early 1970s, while studying at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, one of India’s most important art schools. The curriculum drew on the principles of the German Bauhaus art school, which unified art, craft, and design, and encouraged students to look to traditional idioms, indigenous materials, and historical genres to define a genuinely new Indian art. Through a practice that unabashedly merged art and craft, Mukherjee upended the decorative associations of her chosen medium, finding a set of radical possibilities for contemporary sculpture.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Dyed hemp
Dimensions
97 × 48 × 29" (246.4 × 121.9 × 73.7 cm)
Credit
Committee on Painting and Sculpture Funds, and acquired through the generosity of Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin and the Modern Women's Fund
Object number
269.2017
Copyright
© Mrinalini Mukherjee. Courtesy of the Mrinalini Mukerjee Foundation.
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].