A detail of an acrylic painting on PVC panel by Kerry James Marshall, titled Untitled (Blot), dated 2015.
Kerry James Marshall
A photograph of Kerry James Marshall by Felix Clay, dated 2014.

Kerry James Marshall, 2014. Photo by Felix Clay

Kerry James Marshall, 2014. Photo by Felix Clay

Engaged in an ongoing dialogue with six centuries of representational painting, Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955) has deftly reinterpreted and updated its tropes, compositions, and styles. At the center of his prodigious oeuvre, which also includes drawings and sculpture, is the critical recognition of the conditions of invisibility so long ascribed to Black figures in the Western pictorial tradition.

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A painting by Kerry James Marshall, titled Untitled (Blot), dated 2015.

Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (Blot), 2015
Acrylic on PVC panel
84 1/8 x 119 1/2 inches 
213.7 x 303.5 cm 
Installation view of the exhibition, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, dated 2017.

Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, LA MoCA, Los Angeles, 2017

Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, LA MoCA, Los Angeles, 2017

Installation view of the exhibition, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, dated 2016.

Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2016

Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2016

For his Blots series, Marshall utilizes the language of abstraction to suggest alternative ways in which black experiences are formally manifested in painting. Like his more familiar figurative images, the artist’s Blots invite viewers to consider what, and whom, the history of abstraction has obscured. This painting was shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale and later exhibited in his critically acclaimed 2016–2017 retrospective Mastry, at MCA Chicago, the Met Breuer, New York, and MOCA Los Angeles. 

An image of a painting by Kerry James Marshall, titled, Untitled (Blot), 2015, on the cover of the May 2015 issue of ARTnews.

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Blot), 2015 (detail), on the cover of the ARTnews, May, 2015

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Blot), 2015 (detail), on the cover of the ARTnews, May, 2015

“I’m not a gestural artist. I’m not interested in the mark, per se. But I am interested in structure, in the way these figures and ideas around the figures fit within a structure. And part of that structure is the way that paintings have evolved, from the Renaissance all the way up to modernism, postmodernism…[This] painting appears to be abstract. But for me, it’s not abstract, because it’s a picture of a Rorschach…it’s an invitation to see what you can see. —⁠Kerry James Marshall

Installation view of Kerry James Marshall's works at the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures, dated 2015.

Installation view, 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures, 2015

Installation view, 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures, 2015

A photograph of Kerry James Marshall, by Lyndon French, dated 2020.

Kerry James Marshall, 2020. Photo by Lyndon French

Kerry James Marshall, 2020. Photo by Lyndon French


Josef Albers
Harold Ancart
Carol Bove
Donald Judd
Yayoi Kusama
Kerry James Marshall
Joan Mitchell
Giorgio Morandi

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