Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley

*Race, gender and the politics of representation are explored in a new exhibit featuring the work of artist Kehinde Wiley.

According to, the exhibit, titled Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, is an overview of Wiley’s 14-year career that includes 60 paintings and sculptures. The Brooklyn Museum will feature the exhibition, which opened Friday (Feb. 20).

Questions about race and gender and representation are raised by the World Stage paintings of Wiley, who portrays contemporary African American men and women using the conventions of traditional European portraiture.

Brooklyn Reader notes that Wiley’s portraits of everyday African-American men and women “riff on specific paintings by Old Masters.”

The replacement of the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings contemporary black subjects shines a light on “the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.”

KEHINDE-slide-PANAThe people seen in Wiley’s paintings often wear clothes associated with hip-hop culture (sneakers, hoodies and baseball caps) while set against contrasting ornate decorative backgrounds that bring to mind past eras as well as various cultures.

The painting’s subjects are selected through “street casting,” a process involving strangers Wiley encounters on the street. The chosen model chooses a reproduction of a painting from a book and reenacts the pose of the painting’s figure, reports, adding that Wiley’s willingness to let the model select their work of art gives that person “control over the way they’re portrayed.”

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic will also include an accompanying fully illustrated catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books • Prestel. The exhibition will run through May 24.

Observe some of Kehinde Wiley’s creations that will be on display:

kehinde wiley (woman with large hair) kehinde wiley (woman blonde short hair) kehinde wiley (two women - twins)