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December 10, 2019 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Kehinde Wiley's Rumors of War unveiled in Richmond

NPR: New Statue Unveiled In Response To Richmond's Confederate Monuments
Washington Post: In the capital of the Confederacy, a new monument and a chance to change the narrative

Meet the muse for Kehinde Wiley's 'Rumors of War'
The face of “Rumors of War” is a composite of six different people; the artist didn’t want the sculpture to represent only one identity, but rather black American men at large.

But the body of the sculpture is based on Najee Wilson, a 32-year-old artist’s model living in Brooklyn who is originally from Charleston, S.C.
Kehinde Wiley's Rumors of War is a response to Fred Moynihan's statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on display a few blocks away on Richmond's Monument Avenue. The statue of Stuart was a inspired by John Henry Foley's statue of Sir James Outram displayed in Kolkata, India which was also reinterpreted by a statue honoring Subhas Chandra Bose, a hero of the Indian independence movement.

In 2018, Richmond's Monument Avenue Commission recommended removal of the nearby Jefferson Davis monument and additional signage to reinterpreting the street's four other statues honoring the Confederacy. The Jefferson Davis monument remains on Monument Avenue as Virginia law prohibits the statue's removal.
posted by peeedro (14 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Nice photos of the statue when it was first displayed in Times Square before being permanently installed in Richmond.
posted by peeedro at 10:34 PM on December 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

The VA Museum of Fine Arts is right next door to the Museum of the Confederacy. They're both a few blocks from Monument Avenue, where Richmond's Confederate general statues are. So it seems like an appropriate site for the new sculpture to comment on our history.

Virginia's law on removing or moving 'war memorials' may change soon. Democrats won a majority in both houses of state legislature in the election earlier this year. Sally Hudson, who represents my district in the House of Delegates, seems pretty adamant: "They aren’t war monuments, they are Jim Crow memorials." The governor says he'd sign a bill allowing localities remove monuments.
posted by nangar at 12:02 AM on December 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

It shouldn’t go without mention that among all the second-place trophies on Monument Avenue is one monument to an actual champion, Richmonder Arthur Ashe.

My wife and I were out on Saturday and happened to catch the pre-unveiling veiling of the Wiley statue, just installed at the museum. It is indeed impressive in size and execution.
posted by emelenjr at 2:11 AM on December 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

Does anyone have a mirror or outline.com link? I'm getting a 451: Unavailable due to legal reasons (GDPR) error message from that URL.
posted by adrianhon at 5:54 AM on December 11, 2019

OK, number one, that jacket is sharp.

Number two, the statue is marvelous -- assertive, classical, and lively. FTFA:
Known best for his official presidential portrait of Barack Obama, the 42-year-old Wiley has built his career addressing issues of race and power by painting minorities in the classical poses typically associated with wealthy and powerful white men.
Obviously, all the meaning that pisses off racist/Rebs is encoded and not the ding an sich, but they'll certainly take out their anger on the object. (Thus the cameras and "graffiti-resistant material," I guess.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am awed.

And also, how did I miss that this was in Times Square. I would have gone to Times Square for this.
posted by bilabial at 6:32 AM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love all of Wiley's work, but I really, really love this.

I saw my first Wiley maybe ten years ago in Detroit, and was immediately struck by it -- it was a direct, honest challenge to so many of the other works in the building. It's great to see that challenge taken to the streets.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:38 AM on December 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Wait, there's a museum of the Confederacy?
posted by nothing.especially.clever at 7:16 AM on December 11, 2019

It looks like I was getting mixed mixed up. The building next to the art museum was the Virginia Historical Society. They've since renamed the building the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. There was a Museum of the Confederacy, downtown, next to the White House of the Confederacy, but it's now merged with another museum to form the American Civil War Museum.

I used to live in Richmond a few blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts, but it's been almost two decades ago.
posted by nangar at 8:14 AM on December 11, 2019

nangar may have been referring to what was previously known as the Virginia Historical Society, and is now the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

The Museum of the Confederacy closed in 2018, but White House of the Confederacy (Jefferson Davis's home) is still open. That's further downtown.
posted by emelenjr at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2019

Ah, should have previewed.
posted by emelenjr at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2019

I saw it in Times Square and I think it works well as a grand public art piece. Its message is perhaps on the simple/direct side (the title is probably the most complicated thing about it), but that's the space it's competing in, and it's certainly a message that needs to get into that space, so I understand why he took that approach for that particular piece.
posted by praemunire at 8:40 AM on December 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

The new American Civil War museum in Richmond is fabulous. I wrote about it here.
posted by COD at 2:44 PM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know what I will be checking out when I go home for Christmas. VMFA already has a striking portrait painting of his in their contemporary gallery.

I am so glad this is in Richmond.
posted by jilloftrades at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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