Kehinde Wiley’s works reference specific paintings by Titian and Tiepolo, but he incorporates a range of art historical and vernacular styles in his paintings, from the French Rococo to the contemporary urban street. Wiley collapses history and style into a uniquely contemporary vision. He describes his approach as “interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit.” He makes figurative paintings that “quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of ‘power.’” His “slightly heroic” figures, slightly larger than life size, are depicted in poses of power and spiritual awakening. He deliberately mixes images of power and spirituality, using them as a filter in the portrayal of masculinity. Kehinde Wiley’s exhibition Infinite Mobility recently appeared at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. (via Deitch)
Roger délivrant Angélique by Joseph Blanc
Lieutenant Charles Legrand circa 1810 by Antoine-Jean Gros
I first saw this painting in a college course on 19th century European painting and I have been totally transfixed by it ever since. Lieutenant Legrand, a French cuirassier officer, has just dismounted from his horse and removed his helmet. He leans casually and with the strong self-assurance of a Napoleonic officer against the great beast on which he rides into battle. His white breeches are luminous in the painting and indeed, his crotch is the center of the work. The painting displays his “masculinity” and all its martial signs and accoutrements: a plumed helmet, knee-high black riding boots, a gleaming silver breast plate, long buff color leather gloves and a sword at his waist. He is young, beautiful and in command. He does not confront the viewer, but in all his sartorial splendor he is to be looked at, to be an object of not only military prowess and political propaganda, but of desire. In other words, he’s a hottie. He looks off to the right in the painting and sees what?- a coming battle, his own destiny, his own desire, his own death?
Walter Crane , “Pegasus”
El Bano del Caballo, by Joaquin Sorolla
Franz MÜLLER-MÜNSTER, Reiter mit 2 Pferden am Meer geb 1867