Monthly Archives: October, 2016

Kerry James Marshall: Mastry — #MetBreuer, NYC

“Kerry James Marshall: Mastry”

The Met Breuer, New York, October 25, 2016–January 29, 2017

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 12–July 2, 2017.


“Once you have mastered something, then you are free to choose for yourself which way to go, how high to go, how far to go. The lack of mastery makes you vulnerable to the imposition of somebody else’s will, in every respect. You can shape the world you want to live in too … But if you really want to be free, then you have to take charge of your capacity to shape the world.” (*Kerry James Marshall)

This cuts to the heart of Kerry James Marshall’s life and art — “Mastry.”

Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is a major retrospective of the premier American artist and focuses on the past thirty-five years of his art. The Chicago based artist is best known for his large scale works of black figures depicted within Western art historical traditions including historical tableau, landscape and portraiture. His work also includes the muralist tradition and the comic book (comics-inspired Rythm Mastr drawings, 2000–present).

Marshall is a former professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago’s School of Art and Design and his knowledge of art history runs deep. References to art traditions and artists abound in his works, from the Renaissance to the contemporary. He was born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act and witnessed the Watts riots in 1965. Marshall’s abiding, driving interest is in refashioning the image of the mostly absent, or negative, image of blacks throughout the tradition of Western art over the past hundreds of years, supplanting with powerful images of deliberately dark African Americans which draw directly from the complexities of the African American experience.

His oeuvre includes some of the most stunningly beautiful imagery, rich in allegorical representations of African American culture. Domestic interiors, political references, portraits, self-portraits — all inserting imagery of a people left out of the Western art historical narrative. Marshall’s depiction of ‘blackness’ is deliberate. His palette includes exactly seven distinct and rich formulations of blacks, each with specific additions of blues, yellow ochre and raw umber. Marshall clearly states his intention: “… that blackness is non-negotiable in those pictures. It’s also unequivocal — they are black — that’s the thing that I mean for people to identify immediately. They are black to demonstrate that blackness can have complexity. Depth. Richness.” (From Interview with Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Style Magazine, October 17, 2016, © The New York Times)

Kerry James Marshall’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other major American museums. Kerry James Marshall: Mastry opened in Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art and opens at the Met Breuer on October 25. Its final stop is Los Angeles, at the MOCA, next year.

— Jules Cavanaugh

*From conversation with his fellow Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. Video, Publish Date October 17, 2016. © The New York Times

Featured Image: Kerry James Marshall (American, b. 1955): Untitled, 2009. Acrylic on pvc, 61-1/8 x 72-7/8 x 3-7/8 inches. Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY, USA. © Kerry James Marshall.

© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“Abstract Expressionism” — London @royalacademy

“Abstract Expressionism”
September 24, 2016 — January 2, 2017
Royal Academy of Arts, London

“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.” (Clyfford Still)

Long overdue, this first major survey of Abstract Expressionism since 1957 features paintings, sculpture and photography by Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky, among others. Postwar anxieties, Beat poetry, jazz, new demographics, long stifled voices pulsing with a new and vibrant energy — such were the cultural seismic shifts of the time which gave rise to this new “in your face” visual creative force known as Abstract Expressionism. Monumental in scale and intended to spur viewer interaction on primal levels, it marked well the climate of the day. And powerful it remains.

‘When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.’ (Jackson Pollock)

— Jules Cavanaugh

*Featured image: Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956): Blue poles (Number 11), 1952. Enamel on canvas, 212.1 x 488.2 cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.