Kehinde Wiley at TMA

My first time at the DIA, I stumbled across Kehinde Wiley’s Officer of the Hussars, and I was instantly hooked.

There’s a baroque richness to Wiley’s (huge!) paintings that puts him on par with the old masters, but his subjects are very modern. His Officer is a black man, circa right now, dressed in Timberland boots, baggy jeans and a wife-beater, brandishing a cavalry saber and looking back from the saddle of a rearing horse. It was completely unexpected, and so awesome that I couldn’t stop grinning.

Every time we go back, I revisit Officer of the Hussars, and it always makes me smile. When I heard that Wiley’s art was coming to TMA, I knew we had to go, and I’m really glad we did.

A New Republic is 60 paintings, sculptures, and other pieces spanning Wiley’s entire career. I never knew he was so prolific and worked in so many media! Besides paintings, there were bronzes, triptychs painted on wood, and even stained glass, all in the same old-meets-new style, and all featuring young black and brown people as subjects.

I am not an art expert, and I’m totally unqualified to tell you much more about Kehinde Wiley. Just know this: he’s a top-notch artist who portrays his subjects in a positive and dignified way. He blends the art world with modern urban culture, in a way that’s bound to connect with people who might not otherwise come into a museum. If you’re near Toledo, I hope you come and see the exhibit. A New Republic runs through May 14, 2017.


Morpheus (2008)

From The World Stage series. There’s a really surprising vulnerability to this one.

Morpheus, Kehinde Wiley


Mrs. Waldorf Astor (2012)

From An Economy of Grace. The model is Shantavia Beale. I love the way Wiley uses intricate floral backgrounds that wrap around and overlay the three-dimensional subjects.

Mrs. Waldorf Astor, Kehinde Wiley


Bound (2014)

This is just a huge, intricate piece. The look on her face says so much about her life and her experiences.

Bound, Kehinde Wiley


Likunt Daniel Ailin (2013)

There’s a comb sticking out of his hair in the back and in profile, he looks like a modern pharaoh.

Likunt Daniel Ailin, Kehinde Wiley

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