Kerry James Marshall

Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

Though not a self-taught artist, Kerry James Marshall has chosen to incorporate aspects of outsider art into his practice, placing the flat forms of his simplified figures within a shallow pictorial depth. Marshall’s use of naive art is deceptive, however, because he transforms the cheerfulness and charm we associate with such art into something subversive. As rooted in the tradition of the Blues, as he is grounded in his knowledge of Hollywood’s attitudes toward African-Americans, Marshall uses his knowledge of high art, folk art, and Pop culture to celebrate African-American culture and to question the various ways in which America has constructed social identity.

This exhibition was divided into two groups of works: large unstretched paintings and small paintings done on panels. In all of the paintings Marshall renders his figures in indigo. The choice is telling—it is a color we associate

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