Wednesday 30 June, 2021

V&A East announces acquisition of painting by Kehinde Wiley

V&A East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England

We are delighted that V&A East has acquired 'Portrait of Melissa Thompson', 2020 by American artist Kehinde Wiley. The monumental two-metre oil painting was made as part of Wiley’s series 'The Yellow Wallpaper', first exhibited at William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow in 2020. From September 2021, the painting will be shown in the William Morris Room in the British Galleries at V&A South Kensington, before going on display in its new home at V&A East Museum, opening in 2025.

The portrait depicts Melissa Thompson, a young woman the artist met at Ridley Road market in Dalston, east London – a market first founded in the late 1880s and that remains a vibrant community hub today. The background features a repeating floral motif inspired by the wallpaper and textile designs of William Morris – an artist and designer long associated with and collected by the V&A.

One of the UK’s most significant new museum projects, V&A East celebrates global creativity and builds on the V&A’s long-standing heritage in east London and founding mission to make the arts accessible to all. Currently under construction in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, V&A East encompasses two sites – V&A East Storehouse at Here East, housing over 250,000 objects, 1,000 archives and 350,000 books from the V&A collections, and V&A East Museum on Stratford Waterfront, opening in 2024 and 2025 respectively.

'Portrait of Melissa Thompson, 2020', has been acquired from Stephen Friedman Gallery with generous support from Art Fund and a legacy donation from Dr Philip da Costa, and is one of the first acquisitions destined for display at V&A East. Others includes a signature outsized pink tulle dress worn by Beyoncé and model Edie Campbell, created by Hackney-based designer Molly Goddard, a ceramic vessel titled Itari by Ranti Bam, an artist who works between Lagos, London and Paris, and a tile frieze by London-based artist Mawuena Kattah working with arts studio Intoart.

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