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Photo courtesy of Kehinde Wiley Studio and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

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Kehinde Wiley
American, 1977 -

After Memling’s Portrait of a Man with a Letter, 2013
American Painting
Oil on wood panel in artist-designed hand-fabricated wood frame
24 1/2 in. x 19 3/4 in. x 4 13/16 in. (62.2 cm x 50.1 cm x 12.2 cm), with frame

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  2013.79

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About the Object

Kehinde Wiley’s After Memling’s Portrait of a Man with a Letter is one of eight in his series based upon the work of Northern Renaissance painter Hans Memling (1430–1494). Set within a landscape and cast in natural light, Memling’s sensitive, quiet portraits were sought after by the growing merchant class in Flanders (present-day Belgium).

Here, Wiley blends Memling’s style with contemporary street culture in a way that elevates and immortalizes his modern sitter. At the same time Wiley undermines traditional portraiture’s look of authority. As the artist says, “I try to use the black body in my work to counter the absence of that body in museum spaces throughout the world.”

Wiley’s sitter, confident and graceful, is identified by the name on the doors as Rafton Glean, a resident of the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

[Forman Gallery, Summer 2015]


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