Pushing the boundaries of contemporary portraiture is the acclaimed American painter Kehinde Wiley. Colorful, patterned, and powerful, recent works from this emerging icon are on view through May 8. Where?
Portraiture is arguably one of the most powerful and communicative genres in art. What informs an individual’s identity in all its complexity, and how can that be conveyed — if not captured — through their visage? Painter Kehinde Wiley is quickly rising in the art world as one of the foremost portrait painters, employing pose, fashion, posture, and symbolism to create multi-layered visages that have admirers buzzing.
On view through May 8 at the Seattle Art Museum, “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” offers a number of the artist’s highly stylized and staged portraits, which draw heavily from aristocratic portraits of the 18th century. Wiley’s portraits offer a unique and original view of African American youth and culture, which resulted from his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. According to the Seattle Art Museum, “Wiley set out to photograph and recast assertive and self-empowered young men from the neighborhood in the style and manner of traditional history painting. Since then he has also painted rap and sports stars but for the most part his attention has focused on ordinary men of color in their everyday clothes. Trained at Yale in the 1990s, Wiley was steeped in the discussions concerning identity politics during this decade and he brings his personal insights and theoretical studies to his practice.”
To learn more, visit the Seattle Art Museum.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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