Classical Approach, Contemporary Inspiration

Every first Saturday of the month, the Brooklyn Museum throws an amazing event mixed with art, music, style, and fun. When you throw good people and some of the best elements of pop culture into the mix, you get one amazing experience. Somewhere amidst the noise and the wave of people throughout and around the museum, the art held its own presence and garnered my attention. Mounted high above the wine bar was a huge piece of work from Kehinde Wiley, an American figurative artist that takes classical, Renaissance-styled artwork and incorporates an urban, modern feel to it.

Referred to by M.I.A. as a “brilliant renaissance technician with hip-hop subject matter”, Wiley blurs the boundaries of art periods, past and present, by placing young and iconic African-American men in the middle of the Renaissance and Romantic eras.

Slapped across vibrant backgrounds reminiscent of Baroque and Rococco techniques, these subjects can land anywhere from representing fallen icons of the past to the seats of European royalty, saints, and heroes. His manner of substituting dark skin for white and switching between low and high class situations, in addition to holding on to the homoeroticism of classical European artwork, has made Kehinde Wiley quite the noted artist. Check out some of his work below. You’ll find LL Cool J, Ice T, Biggie, and Dee & Ricky as just a few of the models thrown onto his canvases.

*click on any of the images to get a closer look

Check out his exclusive interview with M.I.A. for Interview Magazine here and visit his official website for more of his work.