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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who is Making Noise in the Art Scene: Kehinde Wiley

When you put your ear up to the walls of the multicultural art world, things are a bit quiet. Switch to the walls of the Black American art scene and you could probably hear a pin drop. “Quite honestly, I don't think anyone made any noise since Basquiat. …Maybe Ernie Banks,” award winning photo journalist Miki Turner recalled during an earlier interview with TC’s View. 

Turner’s comment got me obsessed with finding multicultural artists who are making some kind of noise.

To help with my obsession I scan newswires, magazines, newspapers, art blogs, social media feeds and websites. And who did I find? Kehinde Wiley. Yes, that's him pictured above.
Kehinde Wiley
Napoleon Leading the
Army over the Alps
by Kehinde Wiley

The first time I saw one of Wiley’s painting was on the walls of the Brooklyn Museum in 2009.

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005. Oil on canvas, 108 x 108 in., to be exact. Back then I wasn’t writing about or studying art, I was more interested in just taking in the large scale painting that towered over me. To be honest, I didn’t know who Wiley was or his work. 

The second time I came across Wiley was in my Facebook newsfeed sometime in February 2014. One of my Facebook friend’s had a post that had a couple of Wiley’s paintings along with a caption that read something along the lines of: “Instead of posting food and selfies on Facebook let’s post art work. When you like this post you’ll be assigned an artist and you have to repost a fact about the artist and one of their works.” I liked the post, got my assignment, but I decided to do research for my blog instead. 

The third time Wiley came to my attention was on March 19, 2014 – during my art story idea scanning session. had a video post at the bottom of its site: “Meet Kehinde Wiley, Hip Hop’s Favorite Artist.” I believe the piece originally aired on CNN – courtesy of Show of Force.

After watching the video I was a bit confused on how The Root referred to Wiley as hip hop’s favorite artist. They mentioned nothing substantial about hip hop culture. Instead, Wiley talked about Black American culture and the renaissance era, which he has his models flip through art history books to select the pose and painting that best represents them. Genius!

Take a look while I figure out how to get in contact with Wiley for a “Behind the Canvas” interview with TC. 

Do you know a multicultural artist who is making noise in the art world? E-mail suggestions to or tweet me @TCsViews.

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