October 8, 2004–February 5, 2005
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe, nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind.
— Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1947)
Since the Renaissance, portraiture has functioned as a tool of social mobility and a measure of status. Beyond fixing an individual’s image for posterity, a portrait often symbolizes personal achievement, affirming a subject’s social position, power, and prestige. By creating likenesses of individuals, the contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley elevates the status of his subjects, while at the same time challenging the ways in which images from the past have documented history.
A New Brand of Colonialism
Passing/Posing: Kehinde Wiley Paintings is supported by Infiniti
The Peter Norton Family Foundation also contributed generous assistance for this project.
Museums New York is media Sponsor.