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Kerry James Marshall: History of Painting

By (artist) Kerry James Marshall / Text by Teju Cole and Hal Foster

Kerry James Marshall is one of America’s greatest living painters. History of Painting presents a groundbreaking body of new work that engages with the history of the medium itself.

In History of Painting, the artist has widened his scope to include both figurative and nonfigurative works that deal explicitly with art history, race, and gender, as well as force us to reexamine how artworks are received in the world and in the art market. In the paintings in this book, Marshall’s critique of history and of dominant white narratives is present, even as the subjects of the paintings move between reproductions of auction catalogues, abstract works, and scenes of everyday life. 

Essays by Teju Cole and Hal Foster help readers navigate the artist’s masterful vision, decoding complexly layered works such as Untitled (Underpainting) (2018) and Marshall’s own artistic philosophy. This catalogue is published on the occasion of Marshall’s eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner, London, in 2018.

“The hugely influential American artist examines how the medium of painting has engaged with race and gender for six centuries… Marshall’s paintings are astutely elucidated in two texts specially commissioned for this book.”

– Nataal

“Kerry James Marshall is one of the most prolific painters currently living, and if you’re unable to see his works in person, this book is the next best thing.”

– Lee Cutlip, Inside Hook

“Marshall is commenting not only on art history but on the contemporary market: the way works accrue meaning and ultimately value… And it’s some of the best contemporary art on show. Marshall continues to shake things up – quietly, and from the inside.”

– Griselda Murray Brown, Financial Times

“Diddy and Ye’s favourite artist is back with a gorgeous but vitriolic attack on the representations of black bodies and black artists in the history of art. Brilliant.”

– Eddy Frankel, TimeOut London

“Marshall addresses the history and function of applying paint, pigment, and color to a solid surface through still life, landscape, abstraction, and portraiture, his most acclaimed genre, and one which continuously questions our understanding of beauty, taste, and power.”

– Rianna Jade Parker, ARTnews