Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Marechal Floriano Peixoto by Kehinde Wiley

NPR reported recently on paintings of Barack and Michelle Obama being unveiled at the US National Portrait Gallery (NPR February 12, 2018).

The style of Barack Obama’s portrait looked familiar to me with its large scale and nature inspired intricate background. And then I realized that I had taken some photographs at the Phoenix Art Museum of a colourful double portrait by the same artist: Kehinde Wiley.

Marechal Floriano Peixoto (from The World Stage: Brazil Series) – Oil on canvas (2009) by Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles and lives in New York. On his website, he presents himself “as a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others”.

The Phoenix Art Museum website has a very informative Art Guide for Educators on this painting that shows the inspiration for the pose: a sculpture of Marechal Floriano Peixoto by Brazilian sculptor Eduardo de Sá (Rio de Janeiro, 1866 - idem 1940).

It is really interesting how the artist takes the art of the portrait and, while staying figurative and classical in his method (and his reference), gives it a modern twist by his use of vibrant colours, intricate backgrounds and choice of models. This art is at the same time playful and profound.
Related articles and resources

Other artworks at The Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004 – USA

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