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'T Magazine': Kerry James Marshall Is Shifting the Color of Art History

Alumnus Kerry James Marshall ('78 Fine Arts) Featured in T Magazine

Reprinted from T Magazine, October 17, 2016 

For more than 40 years, the Chicago-based artist has made it his mission to paint black figures into the canon.

"We could begin in Birmingham, Ala., where the artist Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955, his father a postal worker whose hobby was buying broken watches, fancy ones — Baume & Mercier, Piaget, Patek Philippe — that he’d pick up in pawn shops for a song, figure out how to fix with the help of books he’d find used, and resell. From that story, we could derive the practical idea that Marshall, a companion on his father’s expeditions from a very early age, saw that something rarefied and complex, in which one had zero training, could be approached, deconstructed and — with education and application — mastered. Or we could begin by talking about Marshall’s older brother, Wayne — one year and nine days older, who, straight out of high school, went to work for the post office like his father and worked there until he retired — Wayne who was always first at everything, whom Marshall was always chasing, from whom he was inseparable except at school where their ages kept them in different grades, Marshall trying to catch up but always falling short, one year and nine days short. From that story, we could understand that Marshall is a man who, from the beginning, has been hustling to get to where he wants to go."

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Image: Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg, via T Magazine


Kerry James Marshall ('78 Fine Arts) is an American artist known for his large-scale narrative works that capture the African American experience. Marshall's 35-year retrospective, Mastry opens at The Met on October 25, 2016. Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.