I recently learned about artist Kehinde Wiley who, as a kid was inspired by European portraiture of the 1700's. Now he paints giant canvases in opulent colors of Rap and Hip Hop artists (but primarily just guys off the street) in the style of grand portraiture. The Brooklyn Museum describes him this way:
"Kehinde Wiley presents large-scale portraits of young black men as saints and angels, in poses inspired by paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In creating these monumental paintings, Wiley borrows poses, imagery, and titles from works by master painters such as Tiepolo (1727–1804). Dressed in their everyday clothes, the figures float over flat, brightly colored backgrounds suggestive of infinite space. By placing these "new" subjects within the context of art history, Wiley challenges the prevailing representations of black men in contemporary American society."
Not only do I love the dialogue of Baroque opulance and grandeur with the pomp and self-aggrandizement of Hip Hop culture, but I love Wiley's re-interpretations of classical hero imagery, and especially how he casts and interacts with famous Christ images and saints paintings. It's both playful and dead serious.
Check him out
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