Exhibition Examines Identity, Representation through New Lens
The Toledo Museum of Art explores ideas of race, gender and the politics of representation through a powerful exhibition of 60 paintings and sculptures spanning the 14-year career of contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley. On view Feb. 10-May 14, 2017, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic delves into the artist’s earliest explorations of the male figure, his unique take on Old Master portraiture and his later forays into portraits of women, sculpture and stained glass. The exhibition is organized by the Brooklyn Museum.
Wiley’s work is characterized by his collaborative “street casting” process. He invites individuals, often strangers he has met through encounters on the street, to sit for portraits. The models comb through catalogues featuring reproductions of Old Master paintings of the Renaissance through 19th century and select works to reenact, ultimately giving them a measure of control over the way they are portrayed.
“Art has an immense capability to spur discussion around subjects that are as important as they are challenging,” said Brian P. Kennedy, TMA director, president and CEO. “Artists frequently use their work to comment on, and draw attention to, social issues. Wiley draws visitors in with his vibrant, oversized works, but it’s the conversations they generate and the questions they raise that keep viewers’ attention.”
The subjects in Wiley’s paintings wear hip hop fashion as they recreate grand Old Master portraits, putting a contemporary twist on the symbolism found in those works. By replacing the European aristocrats depicted in these paintings with contemporary black subjects, Wiley draws attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.
“TMA’s collection of Old Master works gives a unique context for this exhibition,” said Halona Norton-Westbrook, TMA director of collections. “It allows for a richer dialogue about the themes of power and status that run through both these classic portraits and Wiley’s contemporary works.”
The exhibition includes a selection of Wiley’s World Stage paintings, begun in 2006, in which he takes his street casting process to other countries, widening the scope of his collaboration.
Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is curated by Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum. A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books • Prestel accompanies the exhibition.
The touring exhibition is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and Grey Goose Vodka. Additional support is provided by Sotheby’s, Ana and Lenny Gravier, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Friedman Gallery, John and Amy Phelan, Roberts & Tilton, and Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr.
The Toledo showing is presented in part by Welltower, a Toledo-based REIT, with additional support from 2017 exhibition program sponsor ProMedica, Key Bank, an Ohio Arts Council sustainability grant and Toledo Museum of Art members.
Admission to the Museum and to the exhibition on view in Levis Galleries is free. For more information, visit toledomuseum.org or call 1-419-255-8000.
Masters Series Lecture: Kehinde Wiley
Feb. 9: 6 p.m., Peristyle
Kehinde Wiley discusses his work prior to the opening of the Toledo Museum of Art showing of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, a major retrospective of the artist’s work. The Masters Series is sponsored in part by the TMA Ambassadors. General admission is free. A limited number of priority tickets, which include parking, are available for $25 each for Museum members and $30 each for nonmembers and can be purchased in advance at https://kehindewiley.eventbrite.com. A preview of the exhibition for TMA members will follow the lecture. To become a member, visit https://giving.toledomuseum.org/membership.
FREE Teen Night
Feb. 10: 6-8 p.m., Main Museum
High school students are invited to an open house-style event to celebrate the opening of the Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic exhibition. The evening will feature music by DJ Scholar in the Cloister, gallery games and food.
FREE Art House Film: “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace” (2014, 60 minutes, not rated)
Feb. 10: 7 p.m., Little Theater
This film follows artist Kehinde Wiley as he embarks on a new project: a series of classical portraits of African-American women – something he’s never done before. The film documents the project as it unfolds, tracking Wiley’s process from concept to canvas, casting his models on the streets of New York and enlisting Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy to create couture gowns for each woman. The Art House Film Series, an ongoing Friday film series that offers films and full-length documentaries about artists and museums, is supported in part by Ann and Joseph Pilkington.
FREE Exhibition Celebration: Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic
Feb. 18: 6-10 p.m., Main Museum
This celebration of the Kehinde Wiley exhibition features Toledo-based singers, dancers, actors and other performers drawn from the city’s diverse creative community.
FREE Great Performances: Black History Month Celebration
Feb. 19: 3 p.m., Great Gallery
Toledo-based soprano, educator and community organizer Margaret Barron assembles an impressive array of Toledo performers.
After Hours Tour: Kehinde Wiley
Feb. 25: 5 p.m., Meet at the Plough Entrance to the Main Museum
Participate in an after-hours guided exploration and discussion of Old Masters and hip-hop in the Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic special exhibition. Tickets are $10 per person for members, $15 for non-members. Space is limited. Reserve tickets in advance by calling the information desks at 419-255-8000 ext. 7448 or by purchasing tickets online.
Performance: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
March 4: 8 p.m., Peristyle
Four trumpeters, one baritone player and two trombonists – together, the seven brothers of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble create a magnetic sound that bridges the gap between jazz and hip- hop. The sons of Chicago jazz trumpeter Kelan Phil Cohran, the ensemble has checked off all the “we’ve arrived” moments as a band: touring the world, taking the stage with legends like Prince and having a song featured on the soundtrack in the blockbuster “Hunger Games” movie. Now, they’re bringing their magnetic sound to the Peristyle stage with a live performance on Saturday, March 4 at 8 p.m. The show is sponsored in part by Toledo.com. Visit toledomuseum.org/calendar for ticket information.
FREE Fashion Show
March 10: 7 p.m., Great Gallery
Community members are invited to put on and model their best attire at this fashion show.
FREE Thursday Music: Heavy Color, Interconnected: Rhythm and Reflection
April 6: 6:30 p.m., GlasSalon
Toledo-based sound and art collective Heavy Color mixes improvised electronic landscapes and instrumental beat music with spoken word poetry from around the region. Featured poets will guide the session, but the floor and microphones are open to the community as well. TMA Thursdays are sponsored in part by Huntington Private Client Group.
FREE Gallery Talk: Wiley Community Conversation
April 8: 2 p.m., Levis Galleries
Halona Norton-Westbrook, TMA Director of Collections, leads a walk-through of the exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic.