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Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro, 2008, Kehinde Wiley.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

Thu Feb 11 – Sun May 8 2016

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

Kehinde Wiley is one of the leading American artists to emerge in the last decade and he has been ingeniously reworking the grand portraiture traditions. Since ancient times the portrait has been tied to the representation of power, and in European courts and churches, artists and their patrons developed a complex repository of postures and poses and refined a symbolic language. This language, woven into all aspects of a portrait, described the sitter’s influence and power, virtue and character, or profession. In his consideration of portrait traditions, Wiley has been especially drawn to the grand aristocratic portraits of the 18th century.

The artist began his first series of portraits in the early 2000s during a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He set out to photograph and recast assertive and self-empowered young men from the neighborhood in the style and manner of traditional history painting. Since then he has also painted rap and sports stars but for the most part his attention has focused on ordinary men of color in their everyday clothes. Trained at Yale in the 1990s, Wiley was steeped in the discussions concerning identity politics during this decade and he brings his personal insights and theoretical studies to his practice.

Wiley’s portraits are highly stylized and staged, and draw attention to the dialectic between a history of aristocratic representation and the portrait as a statement of power and the individual’s sense of empowerment.

#KehindeWiley

Two Heroic Sisters of the Grassland

Two Heroic Sisters of the Grassland, 2011, Kehinde Wiley.


Image of a powerful woman posing in the style of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness (detail), 2013, Kehinde Wiley.

Portrait of a young black man in the style of a Venetian Ambassador

Portrait of a Venetian Ambassador, Aged 59, II, 2006, Kehinde Wiley.

painting of two men with their arms around each other

Dogon Couple (detail), 2008, Kehinde Wiley.

Portrait of Andries Stilte

Portrait of Andries Stilte, 2006, Kehinde Wiley.

Man in hip-hop clothes riding a horse in Napoleon style

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005 Kehinde Wiley.

Portrait of Lady Mary Killgrew

Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew (detail), 2013, Kehinde Wiley.

Image of a young man in the style of a religious painting

King and the High Priest, 2014, Kehinde Wiley.

Painting of a portrait of a young man after After Memling's Portrait of Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero

After Memling's Portrait of Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero, 2013, Kehinde Wiley.


 

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IMAGES: Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro, 2008, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in., Private collection, Golden Beach, Florida, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton. Two Heroic Sisters of the Grassland (detail), 2011, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 96 x 84 in., Hort Family Collection, © Kehinde Wiley. Morpheus (detail), 2008, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 108 x 180 in., Courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California; Sean Kelly, New York; Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, © Kehinde Wiley. Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness (detail), 2013, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in., Colección Saorín & Sobrino, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Stephen White, Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery. Portrait of a Venetian Ambassador, Aged 59, II, 2006, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 96 x 72 in., Private collection, Pacific Palisades, California, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Anthony Cuñha, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton. Dogon Couple (detail), 2008, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 96 x 84 in., Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida; Museum purchase, funds provided by the David A. Cofrin Acquisition Endowment and Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Acquisition Fund, 2008.50, © Kehinde Wiley. Portrait of Andries Stilte, 2006, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil and enamel on canvas, 96 x 72 in., Private Collection, Golden Beach, Florida, © Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California. Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005 Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 108 x 108 in., Brooklyn Museum, Collection of Suzi and Andrew B. Cohen, © Kehinde Wiley. Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew (detail), 2013, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 in., Collection of Guillermo Nicolas and James Foster, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Stephen White, Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery. King and the High Priest, 2014, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, 22k gold leaf and oil on wood panel, 40 x 24 x 2 in., Private collection, Montréal, Canada, courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Max Yawney. After Memling's Portrait of Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero, 2013, Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977, oil on wood panel in artist-designed hand-fabricated frame with 22k gold-leaf gilding; with doors open: 24½ x 29 x 5 in., Phoenix Art Museum; Museum purchase with funds provided by The Marshall Bequest, Contemporary Forum, Dr. Eric Jungermann, Ann and Michael Wall, Mr. and Mrs. James G. Bazlen, BMO Private Bank, Dr. and Mrs. Marshall Block, Iris Cashdan-Fishman, Mr. and Mrs. Richard N. Goldsmith, Clark Olson and Nick Butler, Norman McLash, Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Watts and others, 2013.526, © Kehinde Wiley, Photo: Max Yawney, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California.