Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery: The Prelude
by Christine Riding (Author), Sarah Thomas (Contributor), Zoe Whitley (Contributor), Kehinde Wiley (Contributor)
The American artist Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) is best known for his spectacular portraits of African Americans with knowing references to the grand European tradition of painting. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint Barack Obama, becoming the first Black artist to paint an official portrait of a president of the United States. His work makes reference to old master paintings by positioning contemporary Black sitters in the pose of the original historical figures, raising issues of power and identity, and the absence or relegation of Black and minority-ethnic figures within European art.