Denver Art Museum Displays Alternative Masculinities

When I was home in Colorado for Thanksgiving last week, I got the chance to swing by the Denver Art Museum and was thrilled at the quality and diversity of the modern art on display (including a sculpture by Kiki Smith, who I blogged about last week!).
Here are my two favorite pieces that I ran across in the permanent collection:

Fatherhood by Wes Hempel
Hempel on his current body of work:

I’ve actively cultivated this traditional look for a number of reasons. One of my ongoing projects (which I’ve written about at length elsewhere) is a re-visioning of what art history might have looked like had homosexuality not been vilified. A walk through any major museum will reveal paintings that depict or legitimate only certain kinds of experience. Despite the good intentions of critical theorists questioning the validity of the canon, paintings of the old masters on the walls of museums like the Met, the Louvre, Rijksmuseum still have a certain cache. They’re revered not just for their technique but because they enshrine our collective past experience.

Passing/Posing (Marriage of the Virgin) by Kehinde Wiley
The Getty on Wiley’s work:

Kehinde Wiley hot-wires the studied attitudes and dramatic backdrops of Old Master portraits with a Day-Glo palette and a hip-hop sensibility, creating a radical artistic mash-up that has been praised as hip, provocative, and technically brilliant. By asking his subjects to assume poses found in historical paintings and sculpture, he transforms ordinary urban men into saints, kings, even Christ. Wiley blurs the boundaries between traditional and contemporary, self-consciously celebrating and subverting the propaganda of self-aggrandisement in European art.

Join the Conversation