Part of Magic Ladders (2013) by YinkaShonibareMBE.
Fabrics and forms will also be on display—albeit in a more investigative context—this spring at the Barnes Foundation when it presents the exhibition “YinkaShonibareMBE: Magic Ladders,” through April 28. Shonibare, a London-born artist of Nigerian descent, adorns often headless mannequins in brilliantly colored re-creations of the Dutch wax fabrics typically worn in Africa during the age of colonialism. These garments—ostensibly African but actually Indonesian in origin and resold in Africa by Dutch colonizers—epitomize the complexities of the era as nations expanded across the globe.
“Magic Ladders” features 15 pieces, including sculptures, paintings, and photographs, as well as the title work, commissioned by the Barnes, which explores the importance of contemporary education. Says Judith F. Dolkart, the museum’s Gund Family chief curator, “Shonibare shares Dr. Barnes’s belief that education can improve individual lives, benefiting society as a whole.” 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 215-278-7000