Improvisation on a classic

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

Kehinde WileyOfficer of the Hussars, 2007Collection of the Detroit Institute of the Arts Museum

Today I get to feature one of my absolute favorite pieces by Kehinde Wiley, an artist I’ve been aware of, and admired increasingly, ever since I ran across one of his amazing portraits several years ago at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. That painting was part of a traveling exhibition, I didn’t retain the name in my memory, and I haven’t been able to scare up information about it online.

But periodically I’d run across another Wiley–and, as you can imagine (if this is your first Wiley, God bless you, now you know!), once you’ve seen Wiley’s work you don’t forget it. Recently, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art acquired another Wiley, his painting St. Adrian

Wiley’s Officer of the Hussars is based on another painting I’ve known and loved for years, The Charging Chasseur, or An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging1812, by Théodore GéricaultYou may remember seeing a reproduction of the artwork (the Wiley, not the Géricault), if you’ve watched the Fox TV Show Empire.

I’m a Géricault  fan, too, not only for his dramatic compositions and masterful renderings, but because he liked exotic places and people who didn’t all look just like him. At his best, he portrayed many of those “exotic” people as individuals.

do tend to think Wiley improved on the original–but you can compare, and decide for yourself.

The Charging Chasseur1812, by Théodore Géricault – Collection of the Louvre, Paris.

You’ll see more Kehinde Wiley art from me in the months to come, if all goes well. He’s got so many wonderful paintings to share!

NOTE: While researching this post, I also discovered that former President Barack Obama shares my enthusiasm for Wiley’s artwork: he recently chose Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait. It will hang in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, alongside an Amy Sherald portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Deadline Detroit and Alan Stamm, for the photo of Wiley’s Officer of the Hussars, and to Wikipedia for the photo of Géricault‘s painting.