Kerry James Marshall

Principles that Kerry James Marshall use, governed the way things worked 500 years ago, up to now. One of the principles of the works is to go back and make things seem fresh, but with a classical structure. Through the works, history painting and a grand narrative are mixed together, but also act as a source of inspiration for Marshall.
Black figures often appear in his work, where the contrast is ‘amazingly beautiful and powerful’. The first black figure that Marshall painted allowed the continuation throughout his works. The black man is used as a image of power, and the way in which Marshall wants to reclaim this.
Marshall’s work can sometimes seem as though they are not compatible, however this goes against one of his own principles in which things are not incompatible, because they work together. His work comes from pictorial representation through painting, penetrating the walls of a home in order to figure out what will be there is what we expect to be there.
A defining experience and moment of when Marshall wanted to be an artist was when he was able to look through a teacher’s scrapbook (which was only given to the best behaved child of the day) that was filled with cards, newspaper clippings etc. This lead Marshall to making his own cards and creating small artworks for his family, which included his infamous black figure.
Charles White was a key inspiration for Marshall, as the process and the stages of drawing were presented as beautifully ugly. It was then not about how he refined the work, but rather the evidence of the process and the thought, which is difficult to show through a painting how you created it.
One technique that Marshall uses is to look at other peoples work to reorganise his own works better. This re-composition of pieces allowed him to move onto comic book strips, and reanimate African sculptures to bring them to life as superheroes in a respect, and to compare them to all the other sculptures and artworks in the museum. Throughout this works, Marshall has reverted back to his childhood, and represented an undervalued and under-represented sculpture, and to bring it into the future to prevent it dying out.
I enjoyed viewing Marshall’s artwork and listening to why he creates him work in such a way. I did also find that there was a political background to the works, and feel as though this could been used in campaigns such as ‘black lives matter’. The use of the recurring motif of the black person, however, gave me ideas of how I can use a potent motif throughout my work, which may help it stand out further.

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