Celebrating African-American Visual Culture - 10 Kehinde Wiley Art Pieces You Should Know
Kehinde Wiley is an American artist who is best-known for his brilliant naturalistic paintings of people with black and brown skin in heroic poses. This amazing New York-based artist use Old Masters paintings for the pose of the figure. Wiley’s paintings often blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation. Rendered in a realistic mode—while making references to specific Old Master paintings—Wiley creates a fusion of period styles, ranging from French Rococo, Islamic architecture and West African textile design to urban hip hop and the “Sea Foam Green” of a Martha Stewart Interiors color swatch. Wiley’s slightly larger than life size figures are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses connote power and spiritual awakening. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.
Kehinde Wiley art is quite popular among art lovers, art enthusiasts and art collectors. He has truly unique artistic approach, that leaves many viewers breathless. His art is both conceptually and aesthetically amazing. By representing African-American women and men using the conventions of traditional European portraiture, the artist actually deals with the politics of representation and the position of African-Americans in contemporary American society, as well as with the position of African-Americans in cultural and historical narratives. His recent exhibition at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Fort Worth, Texas that was entitled Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic presented some of the artist’s best-known works. As we mentioned, the works by Kehinde Wiley are very popular – not only within the circle of art lovers, but also within the art collectors’ circles. Scroll down, and find out what works by Kehinde Wiley you should know.
Passing/Posing from Coronation of the Virgin
Passing/Posing from Coronation of the Virgin could be understood as a paradigm of Kehinde Wiley’s approach, style and technique. Depicting African-American figure with classical and even renaissance style as a background, the artist questions the representation of African-Americans within contemporary art mainstream circles.
This piece was estimated at $40,000-$60,000; however, it was sold for a price exceeding its high estimate – at Christie’s New York, this piece was sold for $97,000.
Featured Image:Kehinde Wiley – Passing/Posing from Coronation of the Virgin
Support the Army and Look After the People
Kehinde Wiley transcends the boundaries between what is considered high culture and hip-hop culture, contemporary and traditional representation. Support the Army and Look After the People, 2007 is a piece from the artist’s series The World Stage: China. Renowned for his compelling portraits of African American male youth in contemporary urban fashion positioned in the tradition of eighteenth and nineteenth century European painting, Wiley advances his oeuvre, bringing his subjects to the “World Stage” with projects in Brazil, Lagos-Dakar, and China.
This piece was sold for $104,500 at Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg New York. For more information about the artwork, click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Support the Army and Look After the People, detail
Saint Andrew grinds his crotch against a wooden cross. This is quite provocative piece, since it’s questioning the complex relationship between church, African-Americans, popular culture and urban culture.
The painting was sold for $106,250 at Sotheby’s New York in 2013. For more information, please click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – St. Andrews, detail (courtesy of artfixdaily.com)
By collapsing history and style into a unique contemporary vision, Wiley interrogates the notion of master painter, “making it at once critical and complicit.” Vividly colorful and often adorned with ornate gilded frames, Wiley’s large-scale figurative paintings, which are illuminated with a barrage of baroque or rococo decorative patterns, posit young black men, fashioned in urban attire, within the field of power reminiscent of Renaissance artists such as Tiepolo and Titian. This feature of Wiley’s art is quite recognizable at his work Fall.
This piece was sold for $104,500 at Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg. Click here for more information!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Fall, detail
Femme Piquée Par Un Serpent II
Although it is a portrait of a young black man, there is nothing traditional about its composition or treatment. The pink and blue flowers of the wallpaper invade the foreground as “real blossoms”, adding to the sense of disorientation imposed by the upside-down stare of the subject lying across white sheets in a state of partial undress. It is not clear – from his fixed gaze – if he is alive or dead. At the very least he appears to be compromised by a dangerous substance, all the strength drained out of him. The flowers reinforce the “funereal” atmosphere.
The piece was sold for $110,500 at Christie’s New York in 2011. For more information, please click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Femme Piquée Par Un Serpent II, detail
The Dead Christ in the Tomb
For this piece, Kehinde Wiley said: The status and class and social anxiety and perhaps social code are all released when you look at paintings of powerful individuals from the past. However, there’s something to be mined and gained by looking at them in a new way. What happens when you see black bodies that have not previously been celebrated on the walls of the most important institutions in the world?…They start to read differently. It becomes a question of “How do we code the body?”
The piece was sold for $118,750. More info on the artworks you can find here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley- The Dead Christ in the Tomb
Learn from Comrade Wang Guofu!
This piece is typical for Kehinde Wiley’s art. His portraits are based on photographs of young men who Wiley sees on the street. He painted men from Harlem’s 125th Street, then South Central neighborhood where he was born. Dressed in street clothes, his models were asked to assume poses from the paintings of Renaissance masters, such as Tiziano Vecellio and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
This piece was sold for $116,021 at Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg London in 2010. For more info about the artwork, please click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Learn from Comrade Wang Guofu!, detail
St. Sebastian II (Columbus)
Wiley chooses to examine physical excellence. By removing the usual background detail such as that of a landscape or a public forum, Wiley is highlighting and forcing our attention to the subject’s physical body and musculature. Furthermore, instead of depicting the body pierced with arrows and weakened by pain as it is traditionally shown in portraits of Saint Sebastian, we see the body alternatively penetrated by ink in tattoos. Wiley uses this type of penetration as a tool to highlight further the physical detail of the muscle and strength of the subject’s body.
This amazing piece was sold for $132,500 at Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg New York in 2011. For more info about the sale, click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – St. Sebastian II (Columbus)
Defend and Develop the Island Together
Kehinde Wiley describes his approach as “interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit.” Wiley’s figurative paintings “quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power.” In this manner, Wiley’s paintings fuse history and style in a unique and contemporary manner.
The piece Defend and Develop the Island Together was sold for $125,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2015. For more info on the sale, please, click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Defend and Develop the Island Together
Charles I and Henrietta Maria (After Anthony Van Dyck)
Charles I and Henrietta Maria (After Anthony Van Dyck) is the most expensive Kehinde Wiley’s work ever sold. Created in the artist’s recognizable technique and style, the piece was sold at Sotheby’s New York. Charles I and Henrietta Maria (After Anthony Van Dyck) is a typical Wiley’s artwork, a piece where he uses motifs, techniques and styles that are recognizable in almost all of his works.
Charles I and Henrietta Maria (After Anthony Van Dyck) was sold for $143,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2014. For more info on the sale, please click here!
Featured Image: Kehinde Wiley – Charles I and Henrietta Maria (After Anthony Van Dyck), detail. All Images used for illustrative purposes only.