Kehinde Wiley

United States

Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s tradition of portraiture. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, and Ingres, among others, Wiley’s larger-than-life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portraiture, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.

At the core of Wiley’s practice is an analysis of the intersection of cultural and aesthetic values and existing historical narratives. In this charged moment, these discourses reveal how relations of power are produced, sustained, and reinforced by particular interpretations of transcultural exchanges and subject positions.

At the core of Wiley’s practice is an analysis of the intersection of cultural and aesthetic values and existing historical narratives.

Kehinde Wiley holds a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute; an MFA from Yale University; and honorary PhDs from Rhode Island School of Design and San Francisco Art Institute. Wiley has held solo exhibitions at Brooklyn Museum, Jewish Museum in New York, Columbus Museum of Art, and Studio Museum in Harlem. His paintings are in the collections of over forty museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum. Selected museum exhibitions include the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Phoenix Art Museum; Jewish Museum, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Petit Palais, Paris; BOZAR, Brussels; the Phoenix Museum of Art; the Toledo Museum of Art; and the Modern, Fort Worth, among others. His work has been the subject of ten monographs to date. Wiley was the subject of the documentary, An Economy of Grace (2014, Show of Force).

Wiley was honored in 2015 by the U.S. Department of State with the Medal of Arts award, celebrating his commitment to cultural diplomacy through the visual arts. In February 2018, his portrait of Barack Obama was added to the permanent installation of presidential portraits in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. He received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal in October 2018 from Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research and The Gordon Parks Foundation Award in 2019. Wiley is the Founder and President of Black Rock Senegal, a non-profit artist-in-residence program located in Dakar, Senegal. Wiley lives and works in New York, Dakar, and Beijing.

Portrait of Kehinde Wiley © 2018 Kehinde Wiley. Used by Permission. Photographer: Brad Ogbonna.