Kehinde Wiley, turning traditional portraitists into contemporary art
June 8, 2015 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Brooklyn Republic recently closed the exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, a mid-career retrospective, going back 14 years, from Kehinde's early styles to the more well-known mix of young black men in casual attire, recreating traditional portrait scenes, with a backdrop of vivid patterns, as seen in the National Portrait Gallery, among other settings. More recently, he has expanded his street-casting to include African American women, as captured in the PBS Arts documentary, Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace. More videos and critical commentary below the break.

PUMA presents: OF THE SAME EARTH (2010, 6 minutes), which includes Kehinde Wiley painting "a portrait of African togetherness."

Global Africa: Kehinde Wiley at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2011, almost 2 hours), featuring a 50+ minute presentation, touching on the demographic and anthropological study of street casting, walkable Harlem, art discussions with the community, tension with the viewer, down to the question of authenticity in art, then 40+ minute discussion with Victor Ekpuk.

Infinity: Portraits in Black, (circa 2012, 8 min. 30 sec.), a short talk with Kehinde and others on design as solving a problem; suspicion of the composed moment, meta-awareness like scratches added in recorded music; jovial discussion of expectations as a black artist; mixed art history to create something new; crafting an alternate reality; and warning, an Infinity ad at the end.

World Stage series, taking you along on location to find inspirations, models and patterns.
* Lagos & Dakar (2008, 8 minutes)
* Israel (2011, 9 min. 24 sec.; second video, 8 minutes)
* France (2013, 19 minutes)
* Jamaica (2013, 7 minutes), Haiti (2014, 22 min. 38 sec.)

Multimedia Artist Talk: Kehinde Wiley and DJ Spooky (2015, 2 hours), starting with Spooky doing his musical thing, taking inspiration from Kehinde's works and styles; you can skip ahead to 44 minutes to hear Kehinde talk about his discussions with Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, and his own art; something of an update on the earlier Smithsonian retrospective video.

You can see more works on Kehinde's own website, including a dated version of the site if that works better for you. For discussions of the art, there's a long article from NYTimes, and some response to criticism on Arts.Black. Kehinde talked to the Washington Post and explains his Economy of Grace paintings.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Kehinde, previously, focusing more on the Chinese "Maoist" pieces.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, wow. Ain Cocke, Wiley's long time assistant, is a pal of mine from way back. (He's the pale white dude hovering around taking pictures and so on in some of those videos.) These days Ain is based in Beijing, where he runs Wiley's studio, although he travels frequently with Wiley to photograph models and textiles and etc. Fantastic collection of links, FLT.
posted by notyou at 10:44 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Keen! Ain Cocke has some nice work of his own, I can see how he fits with Kehinde.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:03 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Brooklyn Republic

(I think you mean Brooklyn Museum, unless I'm missing something. But it was a really good exhibition)
posted by retrograde at 11:34 PM on June 8, 2015

Thanks, you are correct. I blended the museum name and the exhibition name.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:05 AM on June 9, 2015

This is amazing, what a great post.
posted by Theta States at 6:43 AM on June 9, 2015

Kehinde Wiley is most commonly referenced as having a piece of his in the TV series Empire, but you may also recognize his portrait of Michal Jackson on horseback, which was MJ's final portrait, one that was not completed in his lifetime.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

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