A New Republic, 2015

Pages: 192 pages / 123 color images
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
Size: 10.4 x 12.4 inches
Text: Eugenie Tsai, Connie H. Choi, Insoo Cho, Elizabeth Armstrong, Richard Aste.
Publisher: Prestel


A New Republic, 2015

Filled with reproductions of Kehinde Wiley's bold, colorful, and monumental work, this book encompasses the artist's various series of paintings as well as his sculptural work which boldly explore ideas about race, power, and tradition.

Celebrated for his classically styled paintings that depict African American men in heroic poses, Kehinde Wiley is among the expanding ranks of prominent black artists such as Sanford Biggers, Yinka Shonibare, Mickalene Thomas, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye who are reworking art history and questioning its depictions of people of color.

Co-published with the Brooklyn Museum of Art for the major touring retrospective, this volume surveys Kehinde Wiley's career from 2001 to the present. It includes early portraits of the men Wiley observed on Harlem's streets, and which laid the foundation for his acclaimed reworkings of Old Master paintings by Titian, van Dyke, Manet, and others, in which he replaces historical subjects with young African American men in contemporary attire: puffy jackets, sneakers, hoodies, and baseball caps.

Also included is a generous selection from Wiley's ongoing World Stage project; several of his enormous Down paintings; striking male portrait busts in bronze; and examples from the artist's new series of stained glass windows. Accompanying the illustrations are essays that introduce readers to the arc of Wiley's career, its critical reception, and ongoing evolution.

Text by Eugenie Tsai, Connie H. Choi, Insoo Cho, Elizabeth Armstrong, Richard Aste.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic accompanies the artist's solo exhibition at Brooklyn Museum (February 13 - May 17, 2015); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (September 20, 2015 - January 10, 2016); Seattle Art Museum, Washington (February 11 - May 8, 2016); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia (June 11 – September 5, 2016); Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (October 7, 2016 - January 8, 2017); Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio (February 10 - May 14, 2017); Oklahoma City Museum of Art (June 17 - September 10, 2017).

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is curated by Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Previously Tsai was Director of Curatorial Affairs at the PS1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens, New York, and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs for New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Connie H. Choi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She has contributed to several books, including Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 (Prestel).

Kehinde Wiley

Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world.

By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige to the subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, the subjects and stylistic references for his paintings are juxtaposed inversions of each other, forcing ambiguity and provocative perplexity to pervade his imagery.

Wiley’s larger than life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.

Initially, Wiley’s portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. As his practice grew, his eye led him toward an international view, including models found in urban landscapes throughout the world – such as Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, among others – accumulating to a vast body of work called, “The World Stage.”

The models, dressed in their everyday clothing most of which are based on the notion of far-reaching Western ideals of style, are asked to...

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