Kehinde Wiley - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Most widely acclaimed for his reverent paintings of Black young men, Kehinde Wiley has also created photographs of the same subject matter and utilizes the medium as an integral element of his studio practice. In September 2009, Deitch Projects showcased 17 of his pictures in the exhibition Black Light.


    Rather than oil and canvas, Wiley employed illumination and post-production processes to generate regal likenesses. Wiley’s sitters – posed in the style of the Old Masters are surrounded by vivid, lively patterns sampled from 1950s home décor magazines and a 1999 Martha Stewart furnishings collection. Shot from a slightly lower angle, the camera peers upwards towards the subjects, conferring status and prestige onto the men. In keeping with Wiley’s paintings, the photographs subvert traditions of portraiture by recasting the subject as a modern, Black man whilst retaining the grand backgrounds and formal physicality.


    The remarkable group of photographs comprising Lots 161 through 200 in this auction come from the collection of Fred and Laura Bidwell, collectors, philanthropists, and founders of the Transformer Station, the renowned exhibition space for contemporary photography and art in the Hingetown neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The Bidwells’ collection presents a truly enlightened selection of work, ranging from classic practitioners such as Lee Friedlander and Stephen Shore to photographers working at the very cutting edge of today’s artistic practice, such as Kehinde Wiley, Zanele Muholi, and Hank Willis Thomas, among many others. Themes of identity and self-representation course through these works. An inquiry into the intrinsic nature of photography is another through-line, with artists as conceptually diverse as Alison Rossiter, Matthew Brandt, and Christopher Williams pushing the boundaries of the medium to deepen our understanding of it. Central to the collection is Hiroshi Sugimoto’s masterful Lightning Fields 128 (lot 169), which is emblematic of the creative spark underlying Bidwells’ progressive conception of photography.


    Driven by a passion for photography and a desire to make their collection accessible to the public, the Bidwells renovated a former Cleveland Railway Company transformer substation into a state-of-the-art exhibition venue. Boasting 3,500 square feet of exhibition space, the Transformer Station became a vital part of the city’s artistic community, hosting exhibitions drawn from the Bidwells’ collection, exhibitions curated by the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as performances and talks. Earlier this year, the Bidwells gifted Transformer Station to the Cleveland Museum of Art which will continue to use this unique space. 


    Proceeds from the sale of these works will support the Bidwells’ active philanthropic endeavors. 



    Read More about High Voltage →

    • Provenance

      Deitch Projects, New York

    • Exhibited

      Pattern I.D., Akron Art Museum, Akron, 1 December - 1 June 2010
      Photo Fictions, Emily Davis Gallery at the University of Akron, Akron, 12 September - 22 October 2011
      Beyond Truth: Photography After the Shutter, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 10 February - 26 May 2019

    • Literature

      Wiley, Black Light, p. 21

High Voltage: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection of Fred and Laura Bidwell


After Albrecht Dürer’s Self Portrait (Olufemi Akiwumi-Assani)

Archival pigment print.
29 5/8 x 22 3/8 in. (75.2 x 56.8 cm)
Signed and numbered 1/6 in ink on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $22,860

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023