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Known for his oversize paintings of contemporary African-Americans in heroic poses inspired by the great history and portrait painters of the past, Kehinde Wiley’s clever and ironic “reversals” have provided rich commentary on the nature of race and power in our society. His work began primarily from photographs he took of young men on the street in Harlem that he remixed with a fusion of historic painting styles, including elements of the French rococo. As rich visually as it is conceptually, Wiley’s work has drawn attention since his earliest shows in 2001. In the last decade, he has become one of the most important artists of the moment, with work as relevant and resonant to the hip-hop generation as it is to high-end collectors and major museums.
This volume—the only comprehensive monograph on Wiley’s work—offers an in-depth understanding of this important artist’s work. It chronicles both the earliest paintings and photographs and his recent forays into sculpture—bust portraits in bronze in the manner of Renaissance artists.
About the Author
Kehinde Wiley received his MFA from Yale University in 2001. Shortly after, he became an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collection of major museums around the country, including the Brooklyn Museum. Art historian Robert Hobbs is an art historian at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has held Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair since 1991. He has also been a visiting professor at Yale University since 2004. Recognized as a scholar, teacher, and curator, Hobbs specializes in both late modern and post-modern art. Thelma Golden is the chief curator and director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Sarah Lewis is a scholar, writer, and curator. She has taught at Yale University School of Art in the MFA program and has been an active curator, holding positions at the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art. Brian Keith Jackson is an award-winning author of three novels, a playwright, and a writer on arts and culture. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, and in The New York Times, New York Magazine, the London Observer, Vibe, and Paper, among others. Peter Halley is an artist and the founder of Index magazine.
"As with most great art, Kehinde Wiley’s portraits reflect the time and place in which they were created. They also comment on the history of portraiture, specifically upending traditional European representations of power and beauty. The paintings are distinguished not only by their subjects—young black men cloaked in hip-hop couture—and the technical gifts of their creator, which are considerable, but in their tremendous (and somewhat humorous) appeal." ~ForeWord
"Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of men of color, portrayed as kings, knights, or saints out of Western history paintings, juxtapose issues of race and gender with ideas of power, and ask important questions about the role of young black males today. Kehinde Wiley…is a great introduction to the celebrated portrait painter. It’s a perfect coffee table book, with great content.” ~The Artblog
“This is the first monograph on Wiley, complete with gilt-edged pages and essays by art historians, and it’s the kind of art you wind up talking about as much as you look at it…fascinating.” ~Star Ledger