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"Black Romantic"Kerry James Marshall
Kerry James Marshall discusses what it means to create Black Art during the installation of his 2008 exhibition Black Romantic at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.
The subject matter of Marshall’s work is entrenched in the geography of his upbringing. “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility,” says the artist. “You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go.”More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Camera & Sound: Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: Kerry James Marshall. Thanks: Jack Shainman Gallery.
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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 Marshall’s work is based on a broad range of art-historical references, from Renaissance painting to black folk art, from El Greco to Charles White.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 blacks 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.