Kehinde Wiley, ‘After La Negresse, 1872’, 2006, Rush Philanthropic Benefit Auction 2015

Working with traditional media such as painting and sculpture, Kehinde Wiley recontextualizes history to investigate contemporary issues of identity. After La Negresse, 1872 references a bust by the 19th-century French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, replacing the original female slave figure with a young male basketball player. In 2015, Wiley had a major solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. His work is in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Image rights: Courtesy of Kehinde Wiley

About Kehinde Wiley

Working exclusively in portraiture, Kehinde Wiley fuses traditional formats and motifs with modern modes of representation. Selecting works from old masters like Peter Paul Rubens or Jacques-Louis David, Wiley replaces the historical figures with handsome young black men. In his related, ongoing “World Stage” series, Wiley’s heroic figures are depicted in front of colorful background patterns that make specific reference to textiles and decorative patterns of various cultures, from 19th-century Judaica paper cutouts to Martha Stewart’s interior color swatches. Wiley’s penchant for jarring juxtapositions stems from his desire to complicate notions of group identity. “How do we…go beyond the media stereotypes about national identity?” he has said. “I don't really think about myself as a young gay black American, nor do I interface with my Brazilian or Mexican or Jewish friends that way.”

American, b. 1977, Los Angeles, California, based in New York, New York