Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Black Romantic, Kerry James Marshall’s first solo show at the gallery in several years. Marshall sums up the exhibition by stating “It’s all about love!”. Embracing sentimentality and notions of romance and love in black popular art he gives in to representational impulses that rarely satisfy perceived critical weaknesses in the genre.
Taking his show title from Thelma Golden’s 2002 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in which Golden explored populist notions of “Black Art” and the uncritical realm of image making, Marshall uses Black Romantic as a point of departure to continue his exploration of representation of the black figure in pictorial space. Employing numerous genres of painting, ranging from seascapes to classical artist self-portraits, and referencing the frivolity, sentimentality, and excesses emblematic of the Rococo, Marshall investigates the critical pretentions of the fine art establishment in which he participates. As Golden’s exhibition posited, there is a sense that artworks produced by “Black Artists” fall outside of this domain.
Marshall also presents a mixed media sculptural installation adorned with hundreds of portrait medallions of black men and women. Some are recognizable personalities, but the majority of them are anonymous. Appearing to float as if adrift on a black sea, they exist as a network of relations, known and unknown, forgotten and ignored, a representation of the extended black ancestral family.
Kerry James Marshall has exhibited his works in many important group exhibitions, including the 2007 and 1997 editions of Documenta, the 2003 Venice Biennale, the 1999/2000 Carnegie International, and the 1997 Whitney Biennial. His solo exhibitions include shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Baltic, Newcastle on Tyne, UK; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; and the Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio. Among the many honors he has received are a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, and a Wexner Center Residency Award. Most recently he was awarded a Skowhegan Medal for Painting. Marshall’s work is represented in major private and museum collections throughout the world including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.