I admit it. Sometimes if I do not catch a show when it first opens, I do not seem to get there at all. Well, there are just two more weeks for the historic Kerry James Marshall exhibit at the Met Breuer and it's worth every effort to see the incredible tableaus.
"They're painted on big unstretched pieces of canvas,” says Ian Alteverr, associate curator at Met Breuer. “They're the kind of things you would use for a theatrical backdrop. And then on top of that campus he collaged almost end to end sheets of paper to create a nice smooth surface to paint on in his acrylic paint, and then on top of that even there's more layers of collage, there's this bright acrylic paint."
There is so much to see in each painting about Marshall's life growing up California and later in Chicago, the civil rights movement and his love of home. Alteveer gave us a tour of his favorites.
"I saw this picture and right away I knew this was something for the Met's collection,” Alteveer says. “It's got everything you want in painting, anything you could possibly find in painting; portraiture, still life, it's got an animal, it has a male nude back there in the corner, it's got a landscape through the window. It's even got a passage of abstraction."
Perhaps what's most visible is his desire to show black people.
"He wanted there to be no mistakes, so that we can ever say, 'Oh, is that really a black figure?' They are very, very black, and the artist is up to at least four different pigments of black when he paints these figures. Whether they are warm blacks or cool blacks they are definitively and inexorably black,” Alteveer says.
And another first here at the Met Breuer? Wall text that references Snoop Dogg.
"This has to be the first Metropolitan Museum was label that has the words Snoop Dogg in it because this guy here is listening to 'Gin and Juice,’” Alteveer says.
The Met and art lovers have wanted Marshall to do this exhibit for years. So for all of us, it's better late than never. It closes January 29th, with a symposium January 28th with the artist. Don't miss it.