Through its formal acuity, Kerry James Marshall's (b. 1955) work reveals and questions the social constructs of beauty, taste, and power. As the artist has written, "I gave up on the idea of making Art a long time ago, because I wanted to know how to make paintings; but once I came to know that, reconsidering the question of what Art is returned as a critical issue." Engaged in an ongoing dialogue with six centuries of representational painting, Marshall has deftly reinterpreted and updated its tropes, compositions, and styles, even pulling talismans from the canvases of his forbearers and recontextualizing them within a modern setting. At the center of his prodigious oeuvre, which also includes drawings and sculpture, is the critical recognition of the conditions of invisibility so long ascribed to black bodies in the Western pictorial tradition, and the creation of what he calls a "counter-archive" that reinscribes these figures within its narrative arc.
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