Title: Passing/Posing Untitled 1
Pencil on paper, in artist-selected frame
Dimensions: Frame: 35 5/8 × 30 1/4 inches (90.5 × 76.8 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of the Donors to the Contemporary Art Fund
Kehinde Wiley aims to question the western canon, and its lack of art by and about underrepresented racial identities and gender roles, by using Old Master works as inspiration for contemporary portraiture. Passing/Posing, a meticulous graphite rendering of a black man in a baseball cap, is a quietly powerful example of Wiley’s practice. Drawing inspiration from Italian Renaissance portraiture, Wiley poses his model to look over one muscled shoulder.
Wiley plays with twenty-first century notions of hypermasculinization by subverting contemporary expectations of gender roles: the model’s gaze does not confidently meet the viewer’s eye, but rather is cast demurely downwards, a placid half smile playing upon his lips. Wiley’s specific drawing style, in which the artist layers white heightening over graphite lines , echoes the techniques of earlier academic practice. This purposeful juxtaposition of new and old causes the viewer to reflect and reconsider not only racial and sexual stereotypes prevalent today, but how the lionization of past artistic tropes—the passive female, the absent body of color—plays into their formation. ("FIGURE/STUDY: Drawings from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," text by Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at Carlton Hobbs, LLC January 25-February 2, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.