HAUSER & WIRTH ANNOUNCED its representation of Amy Sherald March 20. The Baltimore-based artist paints imaginative portraits of ordinary African Americans. She recently took on a well-known subject for the first time when she was commissioned to paint First Lady Michelle Obama whose portrait was unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Feb. 12. Sherald’s inaugural exhibition with the Hauser & Wirth is planned for Spring 2019 in New York.

Winning the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition in 2016 changed the trajectory of Sherald’s career. She was the first woman and first African American to top the competition. Previously, she was relatively unknown artist. The recognition landed her among a select group of artists the Obamas considered to paint their official portraits for the museum. Sherald, Sherald, 44, was announced as a new member of the board of the Baltimore Museum of Art in January. Last month, she was named the recipient of the 2018 David C. Driskell Prize. A solo exhibition of her work opens in May at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

“I had been hearing about Amy’s work for awhile, and some of our artists had spoken to me about their admiration for her,” Marc Payot, VP and Partner, Hauser & Wirth, said in a statement provided to Culture Type.

“I was invited to the studio last year and was blown away by what I saw on that first visit—an art completely unique in its expression, within a genre that could not be more classical. Her paintings are very personal yet universal at the same time. They have an uncanny feeling of suspension. They could have been painted long ago or just last night. …I have never seen portraits painted like this. I believe the singularity of Amy’s approach is in itself a major achievement.”

“Her paintings are very personal yet universal at the same time. They have an uncanny feeling of suspension. They could have been painted long ago or just last night. …I have never seen portraits painted like this.”
— Marc Payot, Hauser & Wirth

SHERALD’S ASSOCIATION WITH HAUSER & WIRTH is significant news. Equal opportunity is lacking throughout the art world with women artists falling far behind their male counterparts in every aspect of the field, including gallery representation, exhibitions, museum acquisitions, and market value for their work. African American artists, face the same, if not greater, hurdles.

Based in New York, Hauser & Wirth has locations in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, and Somerset, UK. The gallery represents 75 artists, including Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher, Lorna Simpson, and the Estate of Jack Whitten (1939-2018).

Currently, Simpson, who joined Hauser & Wirth last year, has a major exhibition on view at the gallery’s London space. Bradford, who represented the United States at the 2017 Venice Biennial and has a show up at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, is exhibiting at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles and has a show set to open at the gallery’s Hong Kong location next week. In April, the Baltimore Museum of Art is presenting the first-ever exhibition of sculptures by Whitten. The survey is co-organized with the Metropolitan Museum of Art where it will be on view at The Met Breuer in fall 2018.

BORN IN COLUMBUS, GA., Sherald is among the youngest artists on Hauser & Wirth’s roster. She earned a BFA from Clark-Atlanta University (1997), and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore (2004). The prominent gallery’s representation positions her to have the support and resources necessary to fully pursue her vision for her practice. Her talent matched with the imprimatur of Hauser & Wirth will expose her to an international audience, more prominent exhibitions, and the ability to command higher prices for her work.

Chicago-based Monique Meloche Gallery previously represented Sherald. The gallery told Culture Type it “will continue to work with Amy and we look forward to supporting her upcoming solo show at CAM St. Louis, which we have been working on for over a year now, as well as her 2020 survey exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art.”

Sherald will be in conversation with Dorothy Kosinski, director of The Phillips Collection on March 29 at the David J. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, Collage Park. On April 27, she receives the Driskell Prize at a gala dinner at the High Museum in Atlanta. CT

 

IMAGE: Top, AMY SHERALD, “All the unforgotten bliss (The early bird),” 2017 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Above, at left, Portrait of Amy Sherald, Photo by Justin T. Gellerson

 

UPDATE (3/21/18): This story was updated with information from Monique Meloche Gallery, including news of Sherald’s solo exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2020.

 

BOOKSHELF
Two years ago, Amy Sherald won first prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The catalog “The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016: American Portraiture Today” accompanied the exhibition and features her work on the cover. Sherald was also included in “Fictions,” the recent emerging artist exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

 


AMY SHERALD, “Pythagore,” 2016 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “Saint Woman,” 2015 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “Fact was she knew more about them than she knew about herself, having never had the map to discover what she was like,” 2015 (oil on canvas 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

Here is how the Hauser & Wirth describes Amy Sherald’s work:

“Sherald documents contemporary African-American experience in the United States through arresting, otherworldly portraits, often working from photographs of strangers she encounters on the streets. Drawing loosely upon the American Realist tradition, Sherald subverts the medium of portraiture to tease out unexpected narratives, welcoming viewers into a more complex debate about accepted notions of race and representation, and situating black heritage centrally in the story of American art. While her subjects are always African-American, Sherald renders their skin-tone exclusively in grisaille—an absence of color that directly challenges perceptions of black identity and seeks, in the artist’s words, ‘to exclude the idea of color as race.’ In compositions that are carefully controlled and meticulously considered, Sherald sets her subjects free.”

 


AMY SHERALD, “The Boy with the Big Fish,” 2016 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “Light Is Easy To Love,” 2017 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “What’s Different About Alice Is That She Has The Most Incisive Way Of Telling The Truth,” 2017 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | Collection of The Columbus Museum, © Amy Sherald, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “Pilgrimage of the Chameleon,” 2016 (oil on canvas, 71 x 51 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “Mother and Child,” 2016 (oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 


AMY SHERALD, “The Bathers,” 2015 (oil on canvas, 74 x 72 inches). | © Amy Sherald Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

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