CMOA Acquires Kerry James Marshall Painting

December 14, 2016

Contact: Jonathan Gaugler | gauglerj@cmoa.org | 412.216.7909

Pittsburgh, PA…Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director at Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), announced today the major acquisition of a new painting by Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Gallery), 2016.

Marshall, one of the greatest living painters in America today, is best known for his decades-long commitment to reinserting the black figure into the canon of Western art history. This acquisition represents an important development in CMOA’s relationship with the artist. For the 1999 Carnegie International, Marshall produced RYTHM MASTR, a multipart comic strip published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was used to paper over display case windows at the museum. At the time, Marshall’s work did not enter the collection, so this acquisition fills a gap in CMOA’s holdings, while also reflecting on the legacy of the International.

Woman in patterned skirt stands against gallery wall next to framed photograph

Kerry James Marshall, “Untitled (Gallery),” 2016, Acrylic on PVC panel, 60 ½ x 48 ½ in., Carnegie Museum of Art, The Henry L. Hillman Fund, 2016.52, ©Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (Gallery) depicts a single female figure posing as if for a snapshot against the white wall of a gallery lined with framed black-and-white photographs. Spotlights illuminate the artworks, creating concentric rings of light on the wall. Beside the figure hangs a photograph of a nude woman lying on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace—a familiar pinup trope but also a reference to glamorous 1930s Hollywood production stills. The juxtaposition prompts a host of questions: Is the subject of the painting also the subject of the photograph? Is she the artist? The curator or perhaps the gallerist? In addition to its many possible interpretations, Marshall’s painting demonstrates his mastery of the medium and his encyclopedic knowledge of its history at each turn.

“Since the early 1980s, Marshall’s powerful works have asserted the black figure emphatically in the history and language of Western painting,” says Eric Crosby, CMOA’s Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Untitled (Gallery) will resonate across the Carnegie’s collection from Old Master paintings to contemporary works, offering visitors a new point of entry into that history.”

Marshall’s paintings, which range from intimate imagined portraits to ambitious historical scenes, reference the medium’s past from the Renaissance forward, all the while chronicling the African American experience in the present. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and raised in Los Angeles, he is currently being honored with a touring retrospective co-organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. He lives and works in Chicago.

Kerry James Marshall
American, b. 1955
Untitled (Gallery), 2016
Acrylic on PVC panel
60 ½ x 48 ½ in.
Carnegie Museum of Art, The Henry L. Hillman Fund, 2016.52
©Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (Gallery) makes its CMOA debut on July 15, 2017, when it will be featured in the exhibition 20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem/Carnegie Museum of Art. In a unique collaboration, CMOA’s Eric Crosby and the Studio Museum’s Amanda Hunt present selections from their respective collections in dialogue, shaping a vital conversation through the voices of artists about the polarizing issues of race and economic inequality in America today. Featuring 20 artists from each collection, 20/20 also suggests a test of our collective vision, as museums across the nation reconsider their relevance to local communities and rethink their collecting practices in light of marginalized art histories.

Support
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.

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