Monday, November 28, 2016

"Mastry" by Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall
Mastry, October 25, 2016 - January 29, 2017, The Met Breuer

Mastry by Kerry James Marshall is a two floor exhibit filled with large-scale mural-like paintings at the Met Breuer. The wide collection of Marshall's make up his largest show to date in his thirty-five-year career. Marshall's large-scale paintings engage the viewer completely in his narratives, which represent black culture and society in western life. His work speaks to the lack of African American presence in Western art by depicting the life of African Americans.

Marshall combines the styles of Renaissance artists to make his paintings. The pieces often have a contrast between the foreground and background. The background gives a feeling of going into deep space while the figures up front appear more two-dimensional. Even though his work is influenced by Renaissance artists, Marshall's pieces have moments that appear abstract with layered figures and objects. The pieces also represent the muralist tradition and he uses comics to address his manner of speaking for the seemingly invisible by telling their stories. Overall, the exhibit displays an array of thought through narrative paintings that give voice to the happenings in history of the African American community that Marshall was alive to experience and be inspired by.


  1. I really liked you said “His work speaks to the lack of African American." Kerry James Marshall has successfully shown his great skill of painting and special point of view to look at this world. I like you gave us the overall introduction of his paintings, like the difference of the background and foreground and the influence of the renaissance artists. However I feel like I need perhaps a specific painting that could be your example. So that when we are reading your review we can get the concrete picture about what you are describing. That would make your review much stronger.

  2. Overall I think this review needs to have more interweaving of descriptive and analytic material. One way to do this may be to change the overall structure of the review; a descriptive intro, analytic body, and combination of the two to close. The issues that Kerry James Marshall explores in his work are articulated well in this review but could have stronger flow. It may also be nice to focus on a specific painting or series of painting that were in the show that fascinated you the most rather than a general description of the work as a whole.