Acrylic and collage on canvas in artist's frame
92 × 84.8 × 6 cm (36 1/4 × 33 3/8 × 2 3/8 in)
This portrait of a nude woman, depicted in three-quarter profile from the waist up, is reminiscent of the busts of classical painting. The golden halo depicted as a crown of sunrays around her head is inspired by paintings of the Madonna.
The figure stands in an enigmatic posture, like a Byzantine or early Christian orans. At the top right, three names written in pencil—Linda, Cindy, Naomi—appear in reference to the famous supermodels of the 1990s. Kerry James Marshall questions our society's obsession with celebrity and beauty, superimposing the imagery of the Virgin Mary on that of contemporary fashion icons.
A deeply committed artist, Kerry James Marshall has always aimed to inscribe black Americans in the history of art and society. The human figure is central to his pictorial practice: he develops a reflection on the Black condition in the United States and endeavours to give a place and a “physical presence to the women and men who were made invisible for centuries.”
The question of colour—black, in particular—is central to the artist's research, who uses it in all its variations, mixing the pigments of iron oxides and ivory black to restore their intensity and their ability to absorb light.
This painting by Kerry James Marshal is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021.