Kehinde Wiley was born in 1977 in Los Angeles, USA. He lives and works in New York, USA; Beijing, China and Dakar, Senegal.
Wiley engages the visual rhetoric of the powerful, majestic and sublime in his representation of contemporary African-American and African-Diasporic men and women, who adopt heroic poses directly referencing European and American portraiture.
An exhibition of new work by Wiley will take place at National Gallery, London this winter; the artist’s first collaboration with a major UK gallery. This follows Wiley’s solo exhibitions at The Box, Plymouth, UK in September 2020 and at William Morris Gallery, London in February 2020. Wiley had his first major survey exhibition in France in July 2020 at Centre d’art La Malmaison, Cannes.
Wiley was recently commissioned by Public Art Fund to create a large-scale site-specific artwork for the new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station, New York. His illuminated stained-glass installation ‘Go’ was unveiled at the station in December 2020. The artist’s monumental public sculpture ‘Rumors of War’, was temporarily situated at Times Square, New York in September 2019, before being permanently installed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia in December 2019. In 2018 Smithsonian Institution unveiled Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of Barack Obama for the Presidential Portrait Commission at National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. This painting will tour the USA alongside Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama in ‘The Obama Portraits Tour’ between June 2021 until May 2022.
From 2015-2017 Wiley had a major ongoing touring exhibition titled ‘Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic’ which visited Brooklyn Museum, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia; Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; and Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma. Exhibitions of Wiley's vast and celebrated body of work 'The World Stage’, have taken place in numerous galleries between 2007 and 2014. For this project, Wiley temporarily relocated to different countries and opened satellite studio to familiarise himself with the area’s culture and history before creating portraits of the local people.
Wiley received his MFA from Yale University in 2001. Shortly after, he became an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In 2015 he was awarded the US State Department Medal of Arts. In 2018 he received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard University, Massachusetts. In June 2019 he was honoured by The Gordon Parks Foundation, New York. Wiley is the Founder and President of Black Rock Senegal, a non-profit artist in residence program located in Dakar, Senegal.
Solo exhibitions include: ‘Kehinde Wiley: Ship of Fools’, The Levinsky Gallery, The Box, Plymouth, England (2020–2021); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Painter of the Epic’, Centre d’art La Malmaison, Cannes, France (2020); ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, William Morris Gallery, London, England (2020); ‘Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley’, Musée national du château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France, travelling to Brooklyn Museum, New York (Two-person, 2019-2020); ‘Tahiti’, Galerie Templon, Paris, France (2019); ‘Equestrian Portrait of Prince Tommaso of Savoy-Carignan’, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California (2019); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis’, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri (2018-2019); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Lit’, Bozar Centre For Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (2018); ‘In Search of the Miraculous’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2017-2018); ‘Lamentation’, Petit Palais, Paris, France (2016), ‘Arts For All: Kehinde Wiley’, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Florida (2014); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Memling’, Taft Museum, Ohio (2014); ‘The World Stage: Jamaica’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2013); 'The World Stage: Israel', Boise Art Museum, Boise (2013), travelling from The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (2013) and The Jewish Museum, New York, (2012); 'Kehinde Wiley: Memling', Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (2013); ‘Selected Works’, SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia, USA (2011); ‘The World Stage: Africa, Lagos-Dakar’, The Studio Museum, Harlem, New York (2008); ‘Focus: Kehinde Wiley’, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2008); ‘Kehinde Wiley’, Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2007); ‘The World Stage: China’, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Milwaukee (2007) and ‘Columbus’, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2006).
Wiley's work features in the permanent collections of numerous prominent institutions including The Jewish Museum, New York; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Studio Museum, Harlem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City; Saint Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri; Seattle Museum of Art, Seattle; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and The Zabludowicz Collection, London, England.