Back in October, I wrote about an exhibition at 21c Hotel in Bentonville of work by Kehinde Wiley. Delita Martin, in Bentonville to give a talk about her work in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s exhibition “State of the Art,” posted about the show on her Facebook page, and I made sure to see it when I visited the museum and the hotel in November with the Arkansas Times‘ Art Bus. Like Martin, I was really taken with these huge paintings of contemporary African-American subjects juxtaposed against floral backgrounds.
It’s a sign of the times in Arkansas that someone who hasn’t been out of state in quite some time had already seen, in person, several works of an artist featured Feb. 1 in the New York Times Art and Design section. The Times described Wiley as “one of the most celebrated painters of his generation.”
At the moment, Mr. Wiley’s work seems to be everywhere, from the set of the Fox drama “Empire” to all of the right institutions. His first museum retrospective opens at the Brooklyn Museum on Feb. 20, before traveling to museums in Fort Worth, Seattle and Richmond, Va. In January, he was summoned to Washington to receive a Medal of Arts from the State Department. (“I brought my mother as my date,” he said.)
Feeling downright on top of things. You?
Speaking of the Art Bus, our next trip to Crystal Bridges will be May 2 to see “Van Gogh to Rothko,” an exhibition of works from the Albright-Knox Gallery in New York.
Curator Brian Lang sends me this notice: There will be two paintings by Wiley in the Arts Center’s upcoming “30 Americans” show, including “Equestrian Portrait of the Count Duke Olivares (2005)”, after the work by Diego Velazquez, and “Triple Portrait of Charles I (2007),” after Anthony Van Dyke. Wow! Lang calls the “Equestrian Portrait” (below) “monumental”: It is 108 inches by 108 inches (9 feet by 9 feet, for those of you who don’t think in inches).
The exhibition is of artwork by contemporary African-American artists of the last 40 years from the Rubell Family Collection and will also include work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Colescott, Shinique Smith, Barkley L. Hendricks and Wangechi Mutu. Can’t wait.