Wiley's Passing/Posing at Phillips Auction

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Wiley's Passing/Posing at Phillips Auction

A striking and colourful canvas, Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet), 2004, belongs to Kehinde Wiley’s ebullient series of large-scale portraits which featured in the artist’s breakthrough exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, 2004.

Image: Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet), 2004, Kehinde Wiley

 

A striking and colourful canvas, Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet), 2004, belongs to Kehinde Wiley’s ebullient series of large-scale portraits which featured in the artist’s breakthrough exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, 2004.

Dressed in everyday clothing, Wiley’s larger-than-life figures blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation, forcing a critical consideration of the codified portrayal of black masculinity. Largely consisting of African American men encountered on the streets of Harlem, the artist's models ‘assume the poses of colonial masters, the former bosses of the Old World’ (Kehinde Wiley, quoted in kehindewiley.com), echoing Thomas Gainsborough's esteemed corpus of portraiture. In the present work, the protagonist's enlivened hands replicate the idiosyncratic gesture presented in Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen’s portrait of Jean de Carondelet – the titular Burgundian politician who advised Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the turn of the 15th century. Notably, the latter painting is held in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, the same institution that showcased Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet) in Wiley’s seminal exhibition of 2004.

 

Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet), 2004, belongs to Kehinde Wiley

Having gained international acclaim for his portraits of African Americans over the past 15 years, Wiley made history in 2018 as he became the first black artist to paint the official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington. The unveiling of Wiley’s portrait of Barack Obama in February 2018 was followed by his momentous nomination as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Hip hop artist LL Cool J, lauded him as a ‘classically, formally trained artist who is transforming the way African Americans are seen—going against the grain of what the world is accustomed to. Kehinde has an MFA from Yale, but instead of using his art to assimilate into mainstream society, he goes minorstream, creating major works that outpace that of the majority of his contemporaries […] And his many paintings in the Smithsonian speak to his creative genius’ (LL Cool J, ‘Kehinde Wiley: The Iconoclast’, TIME, 18 April 2018, online). A contemporary descendent of such Old Master portraitists as Velázquez, Holbein, Titian and Ingres, Wiley engages the visual rhetoric of heroism to explore pressing issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality, highlighting the absence of black voices in the canon of art history.

 

20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Phillips, London, 7 March, 2019

Lot 5

Passing/Posing (Jean de Carondelet), 2004

Kehinde Wiley

signed 'Kehinde Wiley 04' on the reverse
oil and enamel on canvas, in artist's frame
270.5 x 209.6 cm (106 1/2 x 82 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2004.

Estimate: £100,000 - £150,000

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