Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
Detail, “Robert Hay Drummond, D.D., Archbishop of York and Chancellor of the Order of the Garter,” by Kehinde Wiley (full painting shown below)

On view now > In “Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis,” the celebrated artist re-envisions museum masterworks featuring Saint Louisans.

Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American subjects in poses that recall grand traditions of European and American portraiture. His models — real people dressed in their own clothing — assume poses adapted from historic paintings. Wiley’s portraits often feature ornate and decorative backgrounds, elements of which surround and sometimes weave around his subjects. His works address the politics of race and power in art, drawing attention to the pervasive lack of representation of people of color in the art world.

Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
Kehinde Wiley, “Portrait of Mahogany Jones and Marcus Stokes,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 108 × 84 in., framed: 119 × 95 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.132 © Kehinde Wiley

The Saint Louis Art Museum is proud to present “Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis,” an exhibition that is deeply connected to this city and informed by visits Wiley made in 2017. Through a process of street casting, he invited strangers he met in neighborhoods in north Saint Louis and Ferguson to pose for his paintings. Wiley then created eleven original portraits that are inspired by carefully chosen artworks in the museum’s collection.

Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
Kehinde Wiley, “Charles I,” 2018; oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in.; framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.133 © Kehinde Wiley

In 2018 Wiley became the first African American artist to paint an official U.S. presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former U.S. President Barack Obama selected Wiley for this honor. Wiley has held solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. His works are included in the collections of numerous public institutions.

Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
Kehinde Wiley, “Madame Valmont,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 72 × 60 in., framed: 83 × 71 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.130 © Kehinde Wiley

“Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis” is curated by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art, and Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, with Molly Moog, research assistant. This exhibition and related programs are supported with a grant from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis. Additional support is provided by Mary Ann and Andy Srenco.

Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Tired Mercury,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 72 × 60 in., framed: 83 × 71 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.126 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Jacob de Graeff,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 72 × 60 in., framed: 83 × 71 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.125 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Charles I,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in., framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.124 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Saint Jerome Hearing the Trumpet of the Last Judgment,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in., framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.123 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Robert Hay Drummond, D.D., Archbishop of York and Chancellor of the Order of the Garter,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in., framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.127 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Three Girls in a Wood,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 108 × 144 in., framed: 119 in. × 155 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.131 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Major Moses Seymour,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in., framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.129 © Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley contemporary portraits
“Portrait of a Florentine Nobleman,” 2018, oil on linen; image: 96 × 72 in., framed: 107 × 83 × 6 in.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California 2018.128 © Kehinde Wiley

“Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis” is on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum (Missouri) through February 10, 2019.


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