Kehinde Wiley on the Old Masters
Estimate $20,000 Selecting works from old masters like Peter Paul Rubens or Jacques-Louis David, Kehinde Wiley replaces the historical figures with handsome young black men, fusing traditional and modern modes of representation. “I try to use the black body in my work to counter the absence of that body in museum spaces throughout the world,” he has said.
Model reference: Student from Jamaica College, Kingston.
Background reference: English lion pattern from the 13th century.
Frame: Dark brown wood
[Please note: unframed dimensions 16 x 12 inches]
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