heroic urban portraits inspired by Maoist propaganda
March 7, 2007 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Kehinde Wiley : painter and sculptor . "The subjects, anonymous men in T-shirts and jeans that Wiley approaches on the street, are given the mantle of authority and grandiosity bestowed on figures such as Napoleon in Jacques-Louis David's famous depiction with a rearing steed or the holiness of saints." (via)
posted by desjardins (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is very cool, but it would have been even better if it had been as I misread Napoleon Dynamite with a rearing steed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:41 PM on March 7, 2007

Really excellent. Thanks.

If this post touches you (like it did me) make sure to click on the via link to and then "go to video" to hear the artist speak. He really puts it into perspective and I am very interested to see how it evolves as he installs himself in different areas of the world to continue on his theme.

posted by pwedza at 11:59 PM on March 7, 2007

First: I like his work, have seen it since his Yale-School-of graduate show. It is smart and good-looking and kind of provocative. Not Lisa Yuscavage/ John Currin good, but good.

That said, between him and greater accomplishment is the fact that his assistants are really good painters. Yeah, I know, just like the referenced J.-L. David or TakeYourPick, but in his case and in today's art-world, the roll his assistants play in his art-making is insufficiently considered. I've help make art for a good many artists and at some point in the process they always took over and reduced our effort to the background - at least the one's who are still around. His assistants do more work than he does (physically - the brain/conceptual work is all his).

But he's a smart guy and smart artist and I look forward to seeing him get beyond this.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:21 AM on March 8, 2007

Is he related to Oscar Wiley? His wallpaper and subjects are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of them has to go.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:18 AM on March 8, 2007

Looks like a typical post-Koonsian bid for manufactured art-celebrity to me. '

International studio project'? Gag me with a spoon – sounds like he's just looking for cheaper assistants to create more Wiley product™ for museums and corporate collections.
posted by vhsiv at 6:45 AM on March 8, 2007

If you can get over to central Ohio, there's a gallery with ... I forget, it's six or eight ... Wiley portraits (they're freakin' huge, nearly life size!) at the Columbus Museum of Art. Worth a day trip, fer sure. If you come, walk east a block down Broad Street afterward for an adult beverage at the Bar of Modern Art.

(Hell, E me and I'll try to come downtown and join you for that drink.)

Manufactured art? Gimmick? Whatever. I liked how he played with the background motifs, entwining them with the subjects; how he designed his own frames for the portraits; and above all how the stylized poses got me to focus on the essential humanity and dignity of the subjects. Hey, it worked for me even if it didn't for you. It's especially fun to hang in the gallery for a while and watch kids react to the portraits -- I think they "get" it, whereas yer average black-clad art student is too jaded to relate. It took a six-year-old patron to notice how the glare off the gallery lighting picks out Wiley's signatures (backward) on the canvases.
posted by pax digita at 7:37 AM on March 8, 2007

His assistants do more work than he does (physically - the brain/conceptual work is all his).

Apply this to Warhol and what do you get?

I really like this guy's work and wish I could afford one of his pieces.
posted by spicynuts at 8:24 AM on March 8, 2007

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