According to reports, the $21.1 m sale of the paint Past Times was a record for a black artist and a crucial next step in a fascinating career
In 1997, African American artist Kerry James Marshall painted Past Times, an artwork illustrating a black household in high-class leisure- playing golf, playing cricket, as well as water skiing and driving a motorboat across a lagoon. It’s a take over a pastoral scene typically filled with European aristocratic kinds yet instead filled with black figures.
Last week at Sotheby’s, it sold for $21.1 m, violating a new world record, constructing Marshall, according to reports, the highest-paid African American artist.
” My ambition was never to make a lot of money ,” the Chicago-based artist told the Guardian in 2017.” I was truly just struggling to induce the best images I could make .”
The buyer of Marshall’s painting was Sean Combs, AKA Diddy, the founder of Bad Boy Entertainment and Harlem rapper who, in the same year this paint was built, debuted his album No Way Outat number one on the Billboard chart.
Jack Shainman, Marshall’s gallerist, told Combs was the right art collector” with purpose and an eye toward preserving legacy “.
Marshall has always felt like he had a social responsibility, growing up in South Central Los Angeles during the peak of the civil rights battle. Having lived near the headquarters of the Black Panthers, his art reflects current realities of many working-class African Americans, painting scenes of his neighborhood community, housing projects to boisterous group meets and intimate moments that range from romantic interludes to pensive solitude.
Over his 40 -year career, Marshall has exhibited at the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art and counts Michelle Obama as a fan. One of his prime motivatings has always been to work against the whitewashing of art history.” If no one is out there working to produce paintings with a racially different define of figures , non-white people will always be in difficulty ,” he said in 2016.” That is why I maintain inducing images that aim to make their way into museums .”
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