Kerry James Marshall Keeping the Culture, 2011
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Unframed and in excellent condition. Kerry James Marshall, along with his dealer, were voted by ArtReview the top two of the 100 most influential people in the art world of 2018 - even ahead of the #MeToo movement, and ahead of figures like Jeff Koons, Larry Gagosian and Eli Broad! His paintings now sell for tens of millions of dollars. For a feature profile/article written for Marshall's first retrospective - a blockbuster show entitled "MASRY" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Met Breuer in New York, Barbara Isenberg of the LA Times wrote: ." The New York Times called the show “smashing” and its subject “one of the great history painters of our time.” The New York Review of Books and Artforum magazine put large images from the show on their January covers. “I’ve been acutely aware that museums are behind their academic colleagues in terms of thinking of representation and people of color,” MOCA chief curator Helen Molesworth says. “I find Kerry’s paintings ravishing — they are drop dead, great paintings — and they have an extra level of reward for people who hold in their heads a history of Western painting.”
Marshall is a compelling storyteller, whether on canvas or in conversation. Talking at length during a visit to MOCA, he is easygoing but eloquent, recalling his neighborhood in Birmingham, Ala., where he was born in 1955, or about growing up black there and in Los Angeles. He remembers the names of teachers who encouraged him. Asked when he first began to notice a lack of black subjects in museum artworks, Marshall answers a different question.
“You have to take an overview of how the culture is structured,” he says. “Even before I got to museums, I was interested in comic books. When you grow up looking at Superman, Batman and all those superheroes, you take it for granted that is what superheroes are supposed to be. So then, when I see art books at the library, and I’m seeing Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo and Rembrandt, I think that’s what artists look like. “..At a certain point, you have to decide whether you’d be satisfied always acknowledging the beauty and the greatness of what other people create or if you want to be in the same arena. You can’t keep saying that a superhero is a white guy with a square jaw and broad shoulders because every time you say that, it means you can’t be a superhero. You have to demonstrate that you believe you have the capacity to be a superhero too. Or the capacity to be an ‘old master.’”
Biography courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery:
" Kerry James Marshall uses painting, sculptural installations, collage, video, and photography to comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He is well known for paintings that focus on black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon, and has explored issues of race and history through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics. Marshall said in a 2012 interview with Art + Auction that “it is possible to transcend what is perceived to be the limitations of a race-conscious kind of work. It is a limitation only if you accept someone else’s foreclosure from the outside. If you plumb the depths yourself, you can exercise a good deal of creative flexibility. You are limited only by your ability to imagine possibilities.”
Hand signed and inscribed on the recto, with the printer's blind stamp.