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Kehinde Wiley’s major exhibition of new works at the de Young Museum in San Francisco was seen by more than 300,000 visitors in its first three months. Now the show—in which the artist’s trademark approach of inserting people of colour into the overwhelmingly white imagery of Old Master paintings and sculptures is applied to Black victims of systemic violence—is set to tour across the United States for the next two years.
Following its run in San Francisco (until 15 October), Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (19 November 2023-19 June 2024); then to the Pérez Art Museum Miami (26 July 2024-12 January 2025), where its presentation will overlap with Art Basel in Miami Beach; and finally to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (22 February 2025-22 June 2025). The exhibition was curated by Claudia Schmuckli, the curator in charge of contemporary art and programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), the organisation that operates the de Young and Legion of Honor museums.
“This exhibition is a critical assertion to the importance of Black life, the condemnation of systemic violence, and the role of art to speak to issues with which visitors grapple on a daily basis,” Thomas P. Campbell, FAMSF’s director and chief executive, said in a statement. “We are delighted that people across the US will now have the opportunity to see this important work in person.”
A brush with… Kehinde Wiley
In its presentation, the de Young Museum has included a “respite room” where visitors can reflect on the topics addressed in Wiley’s works, from institutional racism and systemic violence to privilege and inequality. Campbell added, “It is clear from the response of our visitors that the exhibition taps into deep emotions and resonances that will be just as relevant elsewhere in the US.”
Wiley’s work has become something of a fixture in major touring contemporary art exhibitions. His official portrait of former US president Barack Obama toured seven museums—along with Amy Sherald’s companion portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama—for more than a year. And Wiley’s work figures prominently in 30 Americans, an exhibition pulled from the collection of Don and Mera Rubell that has been touring the US since 2011 and presented at more than 20 museums thus far.