A New Republic

“Painting is about the world we live in. Black people live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying yes.” -Kehinde Wiley

Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps (2005)

I love art! I love seeing how people express themselves through painting, animations, music, performance, sculpture, and so on. The artists invite people into the world they see through their eyes.

Recently, I went to the Toledo Art Museum in Ohio. The museum was very large and very beautiful. They had many pieces from different eras and different parts of the world. They had a special featured aritist named Kehinde Wiley.

Kehinde Wiley’s inspiration for painting is European artwork of noblemen, royalty, and aristocrats. However, he puts a twist to his paintings! Surveying the European arts, Wiley noticed many African Americans were not present in the artwork, along with the absence of African American history and culture. Wiley cultivated his skill in his 15 year career and used African American men and women striking poses in well known artworks.

Wiley’s paintings shines light on race, gender, and the politics of representation for African Americans in Western art history and our cultural narratives.


Wiley looked for models from the streets of New York, and later expanded his cultural focus from cities around the world. He visited China, Hati, Jamaica, France, Israel, and many other countries. He incorporated these countries’ culture and legacy, hoping to show a new perspective of black people.

Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (2012)

“You see so many portraits where the male figure stands dominant in the forefront of the painting and women, children, and land are seen in equal measure as possessions. In my own work the women are strident, they take the forefront. But there is also a sense of mystery; we don’t really know who these women are.” -Kehinde Wiley

In 2012, Wiley began painting portraits of women for his series called An Economy of Grace. In his series, he choose his models from the streets of the Bronx and Queens. He redefines Western feminine beauty by celebrating black beauty.

Ena Johnson (2012)

Kehinde Wiley’s paintings, sculptures, and stained glass windows open the doors to talk about race, gender, ethnicity, diversity, and the lack of representation. Wiley’s art is vivid, colorful, powerful, and meaningful. My friends, I hope you all get the chance to see his work in person and see the underlying message of diversity.

Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran (2013)

Kehinde Wiley’s official Website- http://kehindewiley.com

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