Friday, February 5, 2016

PAINTING THE TOWNS: Kerry James Marshall Set For Major Three-City Retrospective

Text | Hedy Weiss for The Chicago Sun-Times
Published | January 24, 2016

In many ways, Chicago-based artist Kerry James Marshall has depicted the African American experience on canvas much as playwright August Wilson chronicled it for the theater. And beginning this spring, Marshall’s work will be seen in its first retrospective exhibition, “KJM: Mastry,” which will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (April 23 – Sept. 25, 2016), move on to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Oct. 25, 2016 – Jan. 29, 2017), and finally be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (March 21 – July 2, 2017).

Considered one of America’s greatest living painters, Marshall (who lives in Bronzeville with his wife, actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce) has worked at capturing the African-American experience for more than three decades, creating large-scale interiors, landscapes, and portraits that suggest narratives of African-American history from slave ships to contemporary culture. In the process, he has drawn on his deep knowledge of art history – from the Renaissance to 20th-century abstraction, making such additional sources as the comic book and the muralist tradition part of the mix. The result is a wide range of intimate scenes of black middle-class life, painted in vibrant color and with detailed patterning.

The exhibition, which will include about 70 works, will focus on Marshall’s paintings – from his seminal statement in “Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self” (1980), to his most recent explorations of African-American history. Organized in broadly chronological order, the exhibition will consider the dominant themes in his work: History painting, landscape, portraiture, the nude, religion, and abstraction. A selection of drawings, and works of related media such as photography, video, and sculpture, also will be on view.

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