In his Chicago studio, Kerry James Marshall shows us the seven customized shades of black he uses to paint his nuanced figures.
This is the full range of the black flesh tones.
Every one of these tones is on
those – the later figures.
Every one of these colors is on there.
And so this is the pure carbon black,
straight out of the jar.
This is that carbon black
with cobalt blue in it.
Looking at them side by side you can't tell.
But if you put this on top of that you can tell.
This is the pure Mars black,
which is an iron oxide black.
You almost can't tell the difference between them
just by looking at them.
But if I put this on top of that,
it automatically becomes red.
The red in it shows up
when you put it on top,
of the pure carbon.
And so this is the Mars black
with some yellow ochre in it.
But I mean they all look the same.
But when you stack them on top of each other
then the – the variations
start to become more pronounced.
- Kerry James Marshall: Mastry–
- Short 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.
- 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.
- MCA Talk:
ASL Tour of Kerry James Marshall–TalksFree (with admission)
- Short A female tour guide gestures to her left in front of several onlookers.
- Members’ Preview: Kerry James Marshall–Members
- Short Image of a painting on stretched canvas hung by grommets that depicts a black family having a picnic in a park with others boat skiing and golfing in the background with the city seen in the distance.