Kehinde Wiley

“What I’m trying to do is create more moments of chaos where we don’t really know where we are: to destabilize; where all the rules are suspended temporarily.”

Kehinde Wiley's beautiful, powerful, and deeply political portraits have made him one of the most celebrated painters of his generation.

Wiley’s work places Black people into artistic traditions that have historically centered aristocratic white and European symbols of power.

Wiley gained international fame when he was chosen by President Barack Obama to paint his official White House portrait in 2017.

Coming Soon
Solo Shows
Tate Britain, Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, William Morris Gallery + more
Group Shows
Brooklyn Museum, LACMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Jewish Museum + more
Permanent Collections
Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA, Walker Art Center + more

Kehinde Wiley's beautiful, powerful, and deeply political portraits have made him one of the most celebrated painters of his generation. His vibrant and intricate paintings often portray a single modern-day Black figure standing, lounging, or riding a horse in a classical pose in front of an intricate, almost-Baroque wallpaper or nature scene. This contradiction between classical style and modern subjects have become synonymous with Wiley’s work; as a curator at the Brooklyn Museum put it, he “us[es] the power of images to remedy the historical invisibility of black men and women.” 

Wiley’s work places modern-day Black people into artistic traditions that have historically centered aristocratic white and European symbols of power, and by doing so disrupts traditional art-world hierarchies of who deserves their portrait painted. Wiley is known for “street-casting” his portraits, asking strangers he finds on the street to pose for portraits. His paintings are vivid and lush, with the rich, textured backgrounds serving to both complement and ornament his subjects. 


Wiley gained even greater international fame in 2017, when he was chosen by President Barack Obama to paint his official White House portrait, which now hangs in the permanent installation of presidential portraits in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. In 2018, he was awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois medal for his significant contributions to African and African-American history and culture. Wiley was also awarded the Medal of Arts from the U.S. Department of State.

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