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  • Taking inspiration from Bellini’s St. Francis of Assisi, circa 1475-80, housed in The Frick Collection, New York, Kehinde Wiley vividly reimagines the religious image into one situated very much in the present day. The street gear worn by Kehinde's model (Keshawn Warren) is from a now defunct clothing line called A NY THING, meaning ‘a New York thing’ or simply ‘anything’. The young man who developed it is lovingly called A-RON ‘the downtown don’ but his real name is Aron Bondaroff, a leader of the young, downtown New York art community who helps unify its often disparate forces.

     

    Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert, ca. 1476-78, tempera and oil on wood, The Frick Collection, New York. Image: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Scala, Florence.
    Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert, ca. 1476-78, tempera and oil on wood, The Frick Collection, New York. Image: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Scala, Florence.
    • Provenance

      Jeffrey Deitch, New York
      Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2008

    • Artist Biography

      Kehinde Wiley

      Applying the language and devices of royal portraiture to unnamed archetypes of the Black American experience, Kehinde Wiley bestows the pride and prestige of history painting to groups that it has too often overlooked. Rather than depicting the European aristocracy, Wiley’s portraits d’apparats place African Americans against florid backdrops and atop rearing horses, retaining the pomp and opulence of his historical antecedents and situating Black men and women dressed in everyday clothing as the subjects of art historical aggrandization. Often the accoutrements of urban life lend themselves quite readily to historical genres of portraiture; Air Jordans and Timberland boots can be as appropriate to monarchist might as emerald and ermine. Wiley’s goal is twofold: by subverting outmoded forms of expression through the substitution of the sitter, the artist criticizes the historical neglect of adequate Black representation and glorifies undeservingly maligned representatives of modern American life, what he calls “the ability to create painting and destroy painting at once.”

      Wiley’s work has been the subject of universal acclaim. His work can be found in the collections of major institutions across the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Wiley was also selected in 2017 to paint the official portrait of President Barack Obama, the first Black artist to be given such an honor. Recently, Wiley founded Black Rock, an artist residency in Dakar, Senegal, bringing an important artistic resource to the African continent.

       
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128

Saint Francis of Assisi

oil wash and graphite on paper, in artist's frame
193.9 x 141 cm (76 3/8 x 55 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2008.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £138,600

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Director

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 21 October 2020