Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

IMG_5098I spent August 5 at my favorite Richmond spot–The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  I went specifically to see the featured exhibit: Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic.  Mr. Wiley is known for his paintings of black men and women, posed in the style of other famous Western portraits.  To do many of these epic paintings, he used “street casting,” where he found subjects near the Studio Museum in Harlem and had those subjects choose an historical work of art from art books, often Old Masters paintings.  The subject would pose in the manner of the chosen historical work; Mr. Wiley would take photographs and use those photographs to do a large painting.  (information taken from VMFA Exhibit plaque)  The painting in the detail picture is Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps, a stunning work, based on the painting by Jacques-Louis David.

The paintings in the exhibit have a palpable force and a majestic quality.  Subjects stare from the canvas with sometimes uncomfortable honesty.  Mr. Wiley  seeks to  place young black men in positions of power in the paintings, thus helping to point out the lack of black representatKehinde Wiley A New Republic Portrait 2ion in western art.

There are also a number of smaller portraits in the exhibit.  These more intimate paintings are quite beautiful, and I found them to be as powerful as the larger works.

The exhibit is up until September 5, 2016.  If you get a chance, do get by to see it.



Published by

Susan Leonard Little

An Artist, librarian, writer, and editor, Susan Little lives in Richmond, VA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s