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07 Jun 2018

Amy Sherald

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Reviewed by Margaret Keller

Amy Sherald's life-size, realistic oil portraits of African-American women, men, and children stare out boldly. Taking straightforward, confrontational poses, these specific individuals have powerful presences. Sherald's signature use of grisaille instead of naturalistic skin tones lends them a universal quality. Strong and serene, they are simultaneously icons and distinct personalities.

The paint is smooth, pushing the focus onto the person instead of the medium. Flat, bright, monochromatic backgrounds project a sole, frontal figure, or sometimes a pair, into the viewer's space. The arrangement highlights people who often aren't really seen by our culture, or in art history.

Clothing with bold patterns and extreme contrast, such as in A Clear Unspoken Granted Magic (2017), has a graphic quality balanced by the heightened realism of the faces. Sherald's skilled paintings document, commemorate, and portray their subjects, who fully proclaim, "I am here."

Exhibition Amy Sherald link
Start date 11 May 2018
End date 19 Aug 2018
Presenter Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis link
Venue 3750 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, USA map
Image Amy Sherald, A Clear Unspoken Granted Magic, 2017, oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches, courtesy of the artist
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