If you've never heard of pioneering artist Kerry James Marshall, his jaw-dropping retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago guarantees that you will never forget his name or work. Mastry spans 36 years of Marshall's vivid and thought-provoking paintings, which re-imagine the portrayal of African American images and experiences.
Considered on of the country's greatest living painters, Marshall weaves influences from Renaissance art, the Civil Rights Movement, African American history and pop culture into wildly evocative art. As a Chicago resident, the city also appears in many of his paintings. The exhibit offers a stunning overview of his career, his work fills several rooms and consists of nearly 70 paintings as well as a selection of drawings, photography and video.
Highlights include his rendering of the new face of the twenty dollar bill; Harriet Tubman in an imagined wedding portrait with her husband, "Still Life With Wedding Portrait"; a display of his personal image archives that viewers are invited to leaf through; "Baobob Ensemble" and the lively beauty shop scene lifted directly from a South Side shop and shown at top, "School of Beauty, School of Culture".
During the opening of Mastry, James explained his inspiration this way:
"I'm not interested in depicting drama or despair, that's all well represented in the media. I'm interested in the psychology around the drama. It's about those thoughts of empowerments and social justice."
Kerry James Marshall: Mastry runs through September 25, 2016
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Photos courtesy of MCA