"The Blue Boy" Inspired Kehinde Wiley Portrait To Be Unveiled In October

Growing up in Los Angeles, the artist Kehinde Wiley was inspired by the beauty, wealth, fame, and power of Grand Manner’s portraits of ...


Growing up in Los Angeles, the artist Kehinde Wiley was inspired by the beauty, wealth, fame, and power of Grand Manner’s portraits of men in royal poses at the Huntington in San Marino, California, though he was struck by one frustrating omission: Where were the colored subjects?

He will now have the chance to add one of his own.

The Huntington Library, the Art Museum and the Botanic Gardens announced Thursday that they had commissioned from Wiley, who is best known for his portrait of president barack obama, to create a large-scale portrait in response to a gem in his collection: Thomas Gainsborough’s 18th century masterpiece “The Blue Boy”. Wiley’s work will be unveiled on October 2 in the museum’s Thornton Portrait Gallery, where it will hang across from the famous Gainsborough.

The order, which will join the permanent collection of The Huntington, is part of the institution’s program to expand its contemporary art program and showcase more artists of color, said Christina Nielsen, director of the Huntington Art Museum, which is located just outside Los Angeles.

“The first time I saw him I felt an incredible feeling of deep joy, even euphoria,” Nielsen said in a phone conversation last week. “It’s an emotional, visceral reaction – and that’s surely what so many audiences across the centuries have felt when they watched ‘The Blue Boy’.”

Wiley, 44, is best known for his portraits that depict people of color in the traditional settings of Old Masters paintings. He created the new work, titled “A Portrait of a Young Gentleman” (also the original title of Gainsborough’s painting), in Senegal, where he lived during the pandemic and where Black Rock Senegal, its Artist-in-Residence program, is headquartered.

The new painting will be on view until January 3, 2022, the same month that Gainsborough will visit the National Gallery in London for an exhibition. Wiley’s portrait of Obama will also be on display a few miles away at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from November 7 as part of a nationwide tour.

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Newsrust - US Top News: "The Blue Boy" Inspired Kehinde Wiley Portrait To Be Unveiled In October
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