Untitled (Self-Portrait) Supermodel


Conté crayon, charcoal and acrylic on paper

50.2 × 49.3 cm (19 3/4 × 19 7/16 in.)

What does the word “supermodel” evoke? In today's world, it conjures up images of beauty formatted by globalization, of models who are often tall, thin, and white. By choosing to call this portrait Supermodel, Kerry James Marshall defies this stereotype. His Supermodel series refers to pop culture, in particular to the 1992 album by RuPaul—an icon of African-American gay culture.

As the artist states, “All my life I've been expected to acknowledge the power and beauty of pictures made by white artists that have only white people in them. I think it's only reasonable to ask other people to do the same vis-à-vis paintings that have only black figures in them.” The question of colour—black, in particular—is central to Kerry James Marshall's research, who uses it in all its variations, mixing iron oxides (known as mars black) and ivory black (bone black) with carbon pigments to restore all their intensity, seductiveness, and ability to absorb light. He also adds other tints to extend this palette (such as cobalt blue, chrome green, carbazole dioxin violet, yellow ochre, and raw sienna, but not a single drop of white pigment).

Untitled (Self-Portrait) Supermodel is presented for the first time in the inaugural exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021.