By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, wealth, prestige, and history to subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, American artist Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) forces ambiguity and provocative perplexity to pervade his imagery. Wiley’s larger-than-life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity, femininity, and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men and women.
Initially, Wiley’s portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. For his Economy of Grace series, his first focusing on women, Wiley dressed the models in specially designed couture gowns and based their poses on portraits of society women from paintings at the Louvre. The paintings are a celebration of black women, giving them their rightful place in art history.
Wiley’s heroic paintings evoke a modern style instilling a unique and contemporary manner, giving artistic voice to complex issues that many would prefer remain mute.
Contains five each of the following notecards:
Mrs. Siddons, 2012
The Two Sisters, 2012
Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, 2012
Mrs. Waldorf Astor, 2012