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Kerry James Marshall      

Artist Known for Using African-American Life & History as Subject Matter for His Paintings and Sculptures

Kerry James Marshall is an artist who is known for his large-scale paintings and sculptures that use African-American life as their subject matter.

Marshall, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles, was educated at the Otis Artist Institute in Los Angeles, from which he received a BFA and, in 1999, an honorary doctorate. In 1997, Marshall was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant."

The subject matter of his paintings, installations, and public projects is often drawn from African-American popular culture, and is rooted in the geography of his upbringing: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go,” said Marshall.

A striking aspect of Marshall’s paintings is the emphatically black skin tone of his figures -- a development the artist says emerged from an investigation into the invisibility of blacks in America and the unnecessarily negative connotations associated with darkness. The sheer beauty of his work speaks to an art that is simultaneously formally rigorous and socially engaged.

Marshall's artwork is closely related to the Black Arts movement, an African-American-led movement active during the 1960s and 1970s that conveyed a message of black pride.

Marshall resides in Chicago, Illinois.


At the Metropolitan Opera, Drama on an Outdoor Stage - The New ...
... and curator of the nonprofit contemporary art space Gallery Met, it will return in the fall with the artist Kerry James Marshall doing a banner for “Porgy and Bess.
Diddy's 50th Birthday Party Brings Out Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and His New ...
Last year, it was widely reported that Combs had acquired the Kerry James Marshall painting “Past Times” for $21 million, and that it was the highest sale price for ...
Kerry James Marshall's 'Untitled (policeman)' at MoMA shines a light ...
shines a light on race, among other things. Kerry James Marshall's “Untitled ( policeman),” 2015. Acrylic on PVC panel with plexiglass frame. (New York Museum of ...

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