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Kehinde Wiley Awarded U.S. Department of State Medal of the Arts

On January 21, Kehinde Wiley was honored with the United States Department of State Medal of the Arts for his contributions to the White House's cultural diplomacy outreach. Wiley's opulent paintings (featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29) are known for sparking conversations surrounding race, colonialism, and the art historical canon. He has traveled the world to paint people of various African diasporic communities (see our coverage of his last solo show, "The World Stage: Haiti," here).

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Grey Goose

On January 21, Kehinde Wiley was honored with the United States Department of State Medal of the Arts for his contributions to the White House’s cultural diplomacy outreach. Wiley’s opulent paintings (featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29) are known for sparking conversations surrounding race, colonialism, and the art historical canon. He has traveled the world to paint people of various African diasporic communities (see our coverage of his last solo show, “The World Stage: Haiti,” here). The artist outfits his portraits of anonymous individuals with Baroque-inspired motifs that elevate them to a regal status. The dignified way he presents his subjects starkly contrasts with colonial-era context from which he culls his techniques. We congratulate Kehinde Wiley on this achievement and to mark the occasion, we invite you to take a look at some of his recent work below.

Secretary of state John Kerry awarded Kehinde Wiley with the United States Department of State Medal of the Arts (via Instagram).

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Kehinde Wiley's (Hi-Fructose Vol. 29) opulent portraiture subtly stirs the status quo. As an American artist, Wiley honed his craft in accordance with a legacy of Euro-centric art history that left him simultaneously awed and alienated. One would be hard-pressed to find a grandiose portrait of a person of color in the works of the Renaissance masters in the Met or the Louvre. This is the motivating factor of Wiley's oeuvre: to elevate images of average people of African descent through his ornate depictions, exposing the singular beauty of his subjects through dramatic compositions that evoke the Baroque period.

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