by Margot BuermannPosted on

For more than thirty years, Kerry James Marshall has been creating art to inspire important conversations about African American history and identity. His paintings follow the grand traditions of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, but with new narratives in which black people are the central figures. While Marshall initially began his career as an abstract artist, his dramatic shift to figurative painting occurred in the 1980s when he realized that African American artists and subjects were being excluded from major art museums and galleries. Marshall decided he would use the techniques of the Old Masters so revered in those institutions to create a new dialogue, in which black perspectives are given greater visibility within the art history canon.