Past Exhibitions

Kerry James Marshall

May 8, 2010 to January 3, 2011


Kerry James Marshall
Better Homes, Better Gardens, 1994
acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas
Denver Art Museum Collection, Funds from Polly and Mark Addison, the Alliance for Contemporary Art, Caroline Morgan, and Colorado Contemporary Collectors: Suzanne Farver, Linda and Ken Heller, Jan and Frederick Mayer, Beverly and Bernard Rosen, Annalee and Wagner Schorr, and anonymous donors
Photo: ?Denver Art Museum




Kerry James Marshall
Souvenir I, 1997
acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund.
Photo: © Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
The Vancouver Art Gallery is privileged to present the first Canadian solo exhibition of the work of Kerry James Marshall, a pre-eminent American painter working today. Marshall’s paintings depict primarily African-American figures, using formally diverse art historical methods that speak to the visibility and invisibility of “blackness?in the history of western art. The exhibition presents approximately 20 paintings exemplary of Marshall’s practice.

For Marshall, social responsibility means creating artworks that both celebrate and unravel the black experience in America. His Garden Projects is a series of vibrant urban scenes based on public housing projects on the South Side of Chicago and Watts, responding to the US government’s utopian, failed ideal of providing affordable housing to a growing population. The middle class living rooms in the Souvenir paintings of the late 1990s offer scenes made with a diversity of media and a certain meticulousness and restraint. They represent aspects of the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s and include portraits of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Bobby Kennedy and less identifiable characters alongside inscriptions memorializing other heroes and victims of this historical movement. The more recent Vignettes present idyllic images of black couples in sumptuous romantic landscapes reminiscent of eighteenth century Rococo paintings, inserting the black figure into an historical narrative in which they have traditionally been absent. Marshall’s twenty-five year practice is characterized by historically informed explorations of the representation of the black figure in pictorial space, and an investigation of the critical pretensions of the fine art establishment in which he participates.

Kerry James Marshall is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and
co-curated by director Kathleen S. Bartels and artist Jeff Wall.