Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery: The Prelude

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Accompanies the exhibition at the National Gallery, London, 10 December 2021 - 18 April 2022. The American artist Kehinde Wiley (b.1977) is best known for his spectacular portraits that position people of colour in the traditional settings of old master paintings, raising questions about power, privilege and identity, and highlighting the absence or marginalisation of Black figures within European art.


In 2017 he was commissioned to paint Barack Obama, becoming the first Black artist to create an official portrait of a President of the United States. In this new collaboration with the National Gallery, London, Wiley departs from portraiture to explore the artistic conventions and canons of the Western landscape tradition - mountainous, coastal, sublime and transcendental - through film and painting. In the process he touches upon contemporary issues such as climate change and migration, making particular reference to the Romantic wanderer figure in search of spirituality or self-discovery. This book presents his new works, exploring the themes of European Romanticism and its focus on epic scenes of oceans and mountains, alongside a selection of the National Gallery's masterpieces.  



Christine Riding is the Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department and Curator of British Paintings at the National Gallery, London. Sarah Thomas is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. © Zoe Whitley is Director of the Chisenhale Gallery, London.  

Colour illustration79
Dimensions28 x 24 cm
PublishedDecember 2021
PublisherNational Gallery Company Ltd
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