Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles) is an American artist best known for his portraits that render people of color in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings. Wiley’s work brings art history face-to-face with contemporary culture, using the visual rhetoric of the heroic, the powerful, the majestic and the sublime to celebrate black and brown people the artist has met throughout the world. Working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, and video, Wiley’s portraits challenge and reorient art-historical narratives, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain muted.
In 2018 Wiley became the first African-American artist to paint an official U.S. Presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former U.S. President Barack Obama selected Wiley for this honor. In
2019 the artist launched Black Rock Senegal, a non-profit artist-in-residence program located in Dakar, Senegal. That same year, Wiley debuted his first large-scale public sculpture in Times Square, New York, showcasing a young African American man astride a rearing horse. In 2020 Wiley received France’s distinction of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Wiley has held solo exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally and his works are included in the collections of over 40 public institutions around the world.