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Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery: The Prelude

Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery: The Prelude

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by Christine Riding

Contributions by Sarah Thomas, Zoe Whitley and Kehinde Wiley

The American artist Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) is best known for his spectacular portraits of African Americans with knowing references to the grand European tradition of painting. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint Barack Obama, becoming the first Black artist to paint an official portrait of a president of the United States. His work makes reference to old master paintings by positioning contemporary Black sitters in the pose of the original historical figures, raising issues of power and identity, and the absence or relegation of Black and minority-ethnic figures within European art.
For his first collaboration with a major UK gallery, Wiley will depart from portraiture to explore the European landscape tradition through the medium of film and painting, casting Black Londoners from the streets of Soho. His new works will explore European Romanticism and its focus on epic scenes of oceans and mountains, drawing inspiration from the National Gallery’s masterpieces in landscape and seascape.

112 pages with 79 color illustrations, 9.37 x 11 inches, Hardcover.

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