Kerry James Marshall uses painting, sculptural installations, collage, video, and photography to comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He is well known for paintings that focus on black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon and has explored issues of race and history through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics. Marshall said in a 2012 interview with Art + Auction that “it is possible to transcend what is perceived to be the limitations of a race-conscious kind of work. It is a limitation only if you accept someone else’s foreclosure from the outside. If you plumb the depths yourself, you can exercise a good deal of creative flexibility. You are limited only by your ability to imagine possibilities.”
Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955 and grew up in Watts, Los Angeles. He is a 1978 graduate of the Otis College of Art and Design and currently lives and works in Chicago. In his PBS Art21 special Marshall said, “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go…”
A major survey, Kerry James Marshall: MASTRY was on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles from March 12 – July 2, 2017. The survey was previously on view at The Met Breuer and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Other solo exhibitions in the past few years include Kerry James Marshall: In the Tower at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2013); Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff, organized by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Belgium (2013), and traveled to the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark (2014); Antoni Tapies Foundation, Barcelona (2014) and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2014).
Marshall has worked in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Birmingham Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is the recipient of several awards, grants, and fellowships including the MacArthur genius grant in 1997. Kerry James Marshall was selected to exhibit in the 2015 Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, May 9 - November 22, 2015.
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Kerry James Marshall since 1993. Solo exhibitions in the gallery include Dollar for Dollar (2013), Black Romantic (2008), Drawings (2004), Kerry James Marshall (1999), The Garden Project (1995) and Kerry James Marshall (1993).