Kerry James Marshall is a Chicago-based artist…
Who has been creating masterpieces from his Bronzeville neighborhood art studio for a number of years. His work is sought after by galleries around the world and he has collections hanging in the Smithsonian as well as the National Gallery and Art Institute. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago is currently acknowledging his contribution to the art world with a career retrospective entitled “Kerry James Marshall: Mastery.”
The exhibit covers the 25-year span of the work that he has created over the course of his career. During the last three decades, his work has focused on a number of themes important to the African American community. The exhibit currently fills the fourth-floor galleries at the MCA and is mostly large canvases that include modern ideas painted in classical motifs. The pieces, which often represent matters of race, are meant to be provocative and to stir emotions in the viewers.
The artist was born in Birmingham, Alabama, raised in the Watts, and currently lives in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Over the course of his career, his work has depicted movements and moments that have impacted Marshall directly and society as a whole. His landscapes, still life and historical painting often put a heavy focus on the black figures who are always at the center of the story. It has been important to Marshall throughout his career to focus on the black figure as the subject of his art. In a recent interview he stated that he depicts the subjects in the manner that he does for a number of reasons including the fact that he wanted to be “unequivocal that when you see a figure in a painting, that you immediately identify that figure as black, and once you identify the figure is black you no longer have to think about that and can go on to consider all of the other things about the context…”
The “Kerry James Marshall: Mastery” exhibition runs now through September 25th at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. More information about the exhibit can be found at mcachicago.org.