An Examination of the Poignancy of Black Portraiture

Morpheus by Kehinde Wiley, 2008

Black Art in America scholar, Shantay Robinson, considers the role of portraiture in a ever changing social landscape. While Black artists have used portraits to depict the sheer humanity and presence of black people in a culture that ignores, stereotypes, and even harms black bodies; Robinson explores if portraiture is truly reflecting the times as they are now. 

But are artists really thinking about our times and reflecting that in the work? Why aren’t artists making art that is representative of the lifestyles we live? And why are we longing for times that weren’t any better than today? Shouldn’t we be creating new narratives?”

“How Poignant Are the Pictures That Portraits Paint?”, Shantay Robinson

It’s an interesting assessment of a long-standing art form that has been dominated by artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Barkley Hendricks, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Amy Sherald. While Robinson is not saying portraiture is a dead, she does ask if contemporary artists are creating works that are provide context for the experiences black folks are experiencing now.

Read the full article here.