Press release: Upcoming exhibition will feature new work by Kehinde Wiley

By | April 30, 2018

“Kehinde Wiley”, 2018; courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles. Photo by Brad Ogbonna.

ST. LOUIS, April 30, 2018—The Saint Louis Art Museum will present “Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis,” a free exhibition of 11 commissioned portraits of people the artist met during a 2017 visit to St. Louis. The exhibition will be on view in galleries 249 and 250 from Oct. 19 through Feb. 10, 2019.

Kehinde Wiley creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African-American subjects that address the politics of race and power in art. Recalling the grand traditions of European and American portraiture, Wiley depicts his models in poses adapted from historic paintings.

Wiley studied the Saint Louis Art Museum collection to identify works he would reference in the exhibition. During a 2017 visit to St. Louis, he invited people he encountered in neighborhoods in north St. Louis and Ferguson to pose for the paintings.

“Kehinde uses works in the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection as a starting point for observations about race and representation throughout the history of art,” said Brent R. Benjamin, the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “We are extraordinarily honored to collaborate with Kehinde on this exhibition.”

Wiley is the first African-American artist to paint an official portrait of a U.S. President for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The portrait of Barack Obama was unveiled in February. (The National Portrait Gallery simultaneously unveiled a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama painted by Amy Sherald, whose exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis from May 11 through Aug 19.)

Wiley has held solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum (2015), the Jewish Museum in New York (2012), the Columbus Museum of Art (2006), and the Studio Museum in Harlem (2008), among others. His works are included in such public collections as the Denver Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Wiley will discuss the exhibition and his practice in the museum’s Farrell Auditorium during the opening weekend of the exhibition. Details, including ticket information, will be available this summer.

“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. The exhibition is supported by a grant from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org