Kerry James Marshall: Mastry

Images

  • In this painting, a woman painter holds a paint palette in front of a paint-by-numbers portrait. Her skin is as black as the as the solid black background; she stares confidently into our eyes.
In this painting, a woman painter holds a paint palette in front of a paint-by-numbers portrait. Her skin is as black as the as the solid black background; she stares confidently into our eyes.
  1. Long This painted portrait depicts a young woman with jet-black skin holding a long, thin paintbrush up to a colorful, messy painter’s palette. She is shown in a three-quarter pose, gazing directly at the viewer. Her face, which is central to the square composition, stands out against a large, white, canvas, almost blending into the pitch-black background to her right. Closer inspection reveals, however, that her skin is subtly rendered, with various shades of contours and highlights. She wears two large hoop earrings, three small hoop earrings, and an oversized, boxy, high-collared jacket made of stiff fabric. Her voluminous hair—black with an ochre sheen—rises in thick coils on top of her head. The canvas to her left shows a partly finished paint-by-number self-portrait; in it, her likeness is broken up into smaller segments with pale-blue outlines and numbers. She has outlined many of the segments and filled them in with colors from her palette: orange, blue, yellow, pink, brown, and a few shades of green. The paint-by-number canvas does not accurately represent the color and pattern of the jacket she wears, which features mustard yellow sleeves and collar and deep blue and maroon and light yellow stripes.
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Painter), 2009. Acrylic on PVC; 44 5/8 × 43 1/8 × 3 7/8 in. (113.4 × 109.5 × 9.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange, 2009.15. © 2009 Kerry James Marshall. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Campfire Girls, 1995. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 103 × 114 in. (261.6 × 289.6 cm). Collection of Dick and Gloria Anderson. Photo: E. G. Schempf.
Kerry James Marshall, 7am Sunday Morning, 2003. Acrylic on canvas banner; 120 × 216 in. (304.8 × 548.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund by exchange, 2003.16. Photo: Michal Raz-Russo, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, 1980. Egg tempera on paper; 8 × 6 ½ in. (20.3 × 16.5 cm). Steven and Deborah Lebowitz. Photo: Matthew Fried, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, De Style., 1993. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 104 × 122 in. (264.2 × 309.9 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by Ruth and Jacob Bloom, AC1993.76.1, Digital image © 2015 Museum Associates/LACMA. Licensed by Art Resource, New York.
Kerry James Marshall, Beauty Examined, 1993. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 84 × 98 in. (213.4 × 248.9 cm). Courtesy of Charles and Nancy Sims. Photo: Matthew Fried, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Many Mansions, 1994. Acrylic on paper mounted on canvas; 114 × 135 in. (289.6 × 342.9 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Max V. Kohnstamm Fund, Photo © The Art Institute of Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Past Times, 1997. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 114 × 156 in. (289.6 × 396.2 cm). Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, McCormick Place Art Collection. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir I, 1997. Acrylic and glitter on canvas banner; 108 × 157 in. (274.3 × 398.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1997.73. © 1997 Kerry James Marshall. Photo: Joe Ziolkowski, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Portrait of a Curator (In Memory of Beryl Wright), 2009. Acrylic on VC; 30 7/8 × 24 7/8 × 1 7/8 in. (78.4 × 63.1 × 4.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, © Kerry James Marshall.
Kerry James Marshall, School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012. Acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas; 107 7/8 × 157 7/8 in. (274 × 401 cm). Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth (Bibby) Smith, the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art, Jane Comer, the Sankofa Society, and general acquisition funds, 2012.57. Photo: Sean Pathasema.
Kerry James Marshall, The Academy, 2012. Acrylic on PVC; 72 4/5 × 61 in. (185 × 155 cm). Collection of Dr. Dan S. Berger, Chicago. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Mirror Girl), 2014. Acrylic on PVC panel; 83 ¾ x 59 ¾ in. (212.7 × 151.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Marshall Field’s by exchange, 2015.8. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Black Star 2, 2012. Acrylic on PVC; 72 7/8 × 61 in. (185 × 155 cm). Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

About

The MCA is honored to present a major museum survey of Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955), one of America’s greatest living artists. The exhibition focuses primarily on Marshall’s paintings made over the last 35 years, from his seminal inaugural statement Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self (1980) to his most recent explorations of African American history.

Born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, in Birmingham, Alabama, and witness to the Watts riots in 1965, Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. Best known for his large-scale paintings featuring black figures, defiant assertions of blackness in a medium in which African Americans have long been “invisible men,” Marshall’s interrogation of art history covers a broad temporal swath stretching from the Renaissance to 20th-century American abstraction. He critically examines the Western canon through its most canonical forms: the historical tableau, landscape, and portraiture. His work also touches upon vernacular forms such as the muralist tradition and the comic book, as seen in his comics-inspired Rythm Mastr drawings (2000–present), in order to address and correct the “vacuum in the image bank”—in other words, to make the invisible visible.

Marshall studied in Los Angeles with acclaimed social realist painter Charles White and participated in the residency program at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has received solo exhibitions throughout Europe and North America and his work has been included in such prestigious international exhibitions as the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the 2003 Venice Biennial, the 2009 Gwangju Biennial, two Documentas (1997 and 2007), and the 1999 Carnegie International. His paintings are in private collections and foundations as well as major public collections including the MCA’s.

Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is co-organized with The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and cocurated by former Manilow Senior Curator Dieter Roelstraete; Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at LAMOCA; and Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator at The Met; with the assistance of Karsten Lund, former Curatorial Assistant, and Abigail Winograd, former Research Associate at the MCA. It travels to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 25, 2016–January 29, 2017, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 12–July 2, 2017.

The exhibition is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum’s fourth floor.

A comprehensive monograph accompanies the exhibition, featuring essays by each of the curators; Lanka Tattersall, assistant curator at LAMOCA; as well as a new essay by Kerry James Marshall in addition to previously published essays by the artist.

Installation Images

  • A large, unframed painting mounted to a free-standing wall depicts a horizontal nude figure with jet-black skin and one forearm exposed to reveal muscles and tendons. Other paintings are visible in the gallery behind the wall.
A large, unframed painting mounted to a free-standing wall depicts a horizontal nude figure with jet-black skin and one forearm exposed to reveal muscles and tendons. Other paintings are visible in the gallery behind the wall.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Revolution Day, 2016. Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, MCA Chicago, Apr 23–Sep 25, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Funding

Lead support for Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; R. H. Defares; Andrea and Jim Gordon; the George Lucas Family Foundation; Liz and Eric Lefkofsky; Helen and Sam Zell; and Nancy and Steve Crown.

Major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Bluhm Family Foundation; David Zwirner, New York; the Ford Foundation; the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation; the Joyce Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; and Phillips.

Additional generous support is provided by Dr. Anita Blanchard and Martin H. Nesbitt; Allison and Susan Davis; Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson; Jack and Sandra Guthman; David Herro and Jay Franke; Jack Shainman Gallery; Gretchen and Jay Jordan; Anne L. Kaplan; Nancy Lauter McDougal; Robert Rennie and Carey Fouks; Marilyn and Larry Fields; Sara Szold; Cari and Michael Sacks; Eleana Del Rio and Koplin Del Rio Gallery; Lois and Steve Eisen and the Eisen Family Foundation; the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; Agnes Gund; Ashlee Jacob; the North Shore Affiliate of the MCA; the Robert Lehman Foundation; Ambassador Louis and Marjorie Susman; the Terra Foundation for American Art, on behalf of board member Nora Daley; Lynn and Allen Turner; Dick and Gloria Anderson; Dr. Daniel S. Berger; BMO Wealth Management; Dontrey Britt-Hart and Brett Hart; Mandy and Cliff Einstein; Denise and Gary Gardner; Helyn D. Goldenberg and Michael Alper; Paul and De Gray; Nickol and Darrel Hackett; Mary E. Ittelson; James W. Kenyon; Nancy Lerner Frej and David Frej; the Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation; Eric McKissack and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack; and Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel.