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Kerry James Marshall in "Identity"

From paintings and videos to his comic strip featuring African sculptures, Kerry James Marshall’s work unites influences from Renaissance painting and African-American traditions to question the authority of history and “reclaim the image of Blackness.”

“Either I’m working with a set of conventions that have already been established,” he says, “or I’m working against a set of conventions that have already been established.”

This segment is filmed in Chicago, where the artist lives, teaches and works. We gain glimpses into the domestic interiors of Marshall’s immediate family—interiors which find their way into the artist’s paintings, prints, and most recent sculptural and video installations.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Executive Producer: Susan Dowling. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Production Coordinator: Laura Recht. Researcher: Quinn Latimer & Wesley Miller. Director: Catherine Tatge. Editor: Donna Marino. Director of Photography: Bob Elfstrom, Mark Falstad, Tom Hurwitz, Terry Hopkins, & Ken Kobland. Assistant Camera: Doug Dunderdale & Steve Nealey. Sound: David Brownlow, Heidi Hesse, Mark Roy, Bill Wander, & Joe Yario. Gaffer/Grip: Lamar Bloodworth & Ned Hallick. Production Assistant: Steve Carrillo, Brian Hwang, Graham Gangi, Scott Stevens, Erick Michaud, Alexei Van Mourik, & Heather Murray. Animation Stand Photography: Marcos Levy & City Lights. Assistant Avid Editor: Matt Prinzig & Heather Burak. Assistant to the Director: Rachel Connolly.

Introductory Segment | Director & Writer: William Wegman. Producer: Andrea Beeman. Cast: Steve Martin, Jason Burch, Chip, Chundo. Director of Photography: Edgar Gil. Costumes: Pam Wegman. Editor: Steve Silkensen. Sound: Martin G. Cole, Marilys Ernst. On-Line Editor: Benton Bainbridge, DMZ. Post Mix: Danny Caccavo, Sync Sound.

Louise Bourgeois Segment | Producer/Editor: Marion Cajori. Associate Producer: Kipjaz Savoie. Director of Photography: Mead Hunt. Assistant Camera: Brian O’Caroll. Sound: Peter Miller. Production Assistant: Anya Popova.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design and Direction: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Music Supervisor: John Yaffé. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack, New York. Post-Production Supervisor: Michael Weingrad & Keir Randall.

Artworks courtesy of: Louise Bourgeois; Jerry Gorovoy; Maya Lin; Kerry James Marshall; © 2001 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy; Art Institute of Chicago; Art Kaleidoscope Foundation; Cheim & Read; Sarah Clark-Langager, Western Washington University; Donald Young Gallery; Gagosian Gallery; Jack Shainman Gallery; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art; Southern Poverty Law Center; Sperone Westwater Gallery; & Whitney Museum of American Art. Archival material courtesy of: Frey Foundation; Langston Hughes Library; Timothy Hursley; The Hull House; & Chicago Parks Department.

Special Thanks: Anne C. Baker; Alison Beall; Jamie Bennett; Joyce Bobolts; Brooklyn Museum; The Bruce Family; William Bush; City Lights; Susan Delson; Dennis Diamond; Dia Center for the Arts; David Ebner; Thomas G. Grace; Russell Hassell; Bruce Mac Corkindale; Cara Mertes; Margarita Moreno; Juliet Myers; Chris Pullman; Queens Museum; Tamberelli Video; University of Illinois, Chicago; Darin Webb; & Wendy Williams.

Interns: Maytal Ahrony, Joyce Alcantara, Christina Darcy, Leslie Fritz, Johanna Goldfeld, Susannah Gust, Sage Lehman, Kelly McCoy, Genevieve Mercatante, Jeff Seelbach, & Stacy Wu.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, The Broad Art Foundation, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and The Foundation-to-Life.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Kerry James Marshall

The subject matter of Kerry James Marshall’s paintings, installations, and public projects is often drawn from African American popular culture, and is rooted in the geography of his upbringing. Marshall’s work is based on a broad range of art-historical references, from Renaissance painting to black folk art, from El Greco to Charles White. A striking aspect of Marshall’s paintings is the emphatically black skin tone of his figures—a development the artist says emerged from an investigation into the invisibility of Black people in America and the unnecessarily negative connotations associated with darkness. The sheer beauty of his work speaks to an art that is simultaneously formally rigorous and socially engaged.

“We only move into the 21st century on the foundation of things that have been established long, long ago.”

Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall

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Kerry James Marshall

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Kerry James Marshall

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Kerry James Marshall

How can an artist alter a viewer’s impression of history?


Comics & Animation

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“Many Mansions”

Kerry James Marshall talks about the inspiration for his 1994 painting “Many Mansions,” acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago for its permanent collection.

More from "Identity"

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