This is the last weekend to see Kerry James Marshall:Mastery at Met Breuer in New York, definitely one of the best exhibitions I saw in 2016.
Here is Met Breuer’s overview of the exhibition-
This major monographic exhibition is the largest museum retrospective to date of the work of American artist Kerry James Marshall (born 1955). Encompassing nearly 80 works—including 72 paintings—that span the artist’s remarkable 35-year career, it reveals Marshall’s practice to be one that synthesizes a wide range of pictorial traditions to counter stereotypical representations of black people in society and reassert the place of the black figure within the canon of Western painting.
Born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act in Birmingham, Alabama, and witness to the Watts rebellion in 1965, Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. He is known for his large-scale narrative history paintings featuring black figures—defiant assertions of blackness in a medium in which African Americans have long been invisible—and his exploration of art history covers a broad temporal swath stretching from the Renaissance to 20th-century American abstraction. Marshall critically examines and reworks the Western canon through its most archetypal forms: the historical tableau, landscape and genre painting, and portraiture. His work also touches upon vernacular forms such as the muralist tradition and the comic book in order to address and correct, in his words, the “vacuum in the image bank” and to make the invisible visible.
The exhibition runs concurrently with Kerry James Marshall Selects, a room curated by Marshall, of work from the Met collection “ranging from the Northern Renaissance to French post-Impressionism, and from African masks to American photography of the 1950s and ‘60s, underscoring the global and historical nature of the influences that are predominant in his practice”. This is a wonderful addition that adds another layer of perspective to the work.
Taking up two floors of the building, and with work that is often filled with detailed imagery, make sure to leave enough time to take it all in.
For more information on the artist, this New York Times article discusses the retrospective, the artist’s history, and includes quotes from an interview the author had with Marshall in his studio.
This exhibition closes on 1/29/17. If you are in Los Angeles, or visiting, it will open at MOCA Grand Avenue on March 12, 2017.
(Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Photo by Nathan Keay)