Art Fix Tip – Kehinde Wiley in Cannes - ART FIX
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Art Fix Tip - Kehinde Wiley in Cannes

Every Art Fixer on holiday or living in the South of France: you may already be warm, but this tip is about to make your day even hotter!

  • Centre d’art La Malmaison, 47 Boulevard de la Croisette, Cannes
  • Until: 1 November
  • Nearest Airport: Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (30 minutes)

On the prestigious Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes, you’ll find the Malmaison Arts Center, where a retrospective exhibition of the Black artist Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles) just opened. In true Côte d’Azur style, this art center is very on trend with showcasing this talent, who is in high demand. The Centre d’Art la Malmaison shows over 20 epic works, representative of the vast vocabulary that has guided the artist’s work for more than a decade. 

Let us give you some background: Kehinde Wiley rose to fame as the first African American artist to paint an official portrait of a president for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Importantly, Wiley was cherry-picked by the former US President Barack Obama himself!

The artist is best known for his portraits that render people of color in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings. Choosing models of African origin or according to his terms, “non-white” characters, Kehinde Wiley questions us about our perception of the black figure in art, both absent and stereotyped. He uses chance encounters with young coloured men and women to create Baroque portraits in the style of the Old Masters

A great example is Kehinde Wiley’s triumphant “Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps” (2005), which is a dramatic homage to David’s Jacques-Louis David’s “Bonaparte Crossing the Alps” (1800–1).

Kehinde Wiley is a descendent of a long line of portraitists who uses his 21st century flare to make his works contemporary and cool. And cool it off it will – take a break from the beach and visit this exhibition if you’re in Cannes.