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Kerry James Marshall
Above the Line

June 2015 – March 13, 2016
Adjacent to the High Line at West 22nd Street

Through compelling portraiture and both intimate and disquieting scenes of domestic life, Kerry James Marshall comments on contemporary and art historical depictions of black identity. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, raised in South Central Los Angeles in the 1970s, and currently based in Chicago, Marshall is acutely sensitive to his own social responsibility as an artist. The artist plunges his work into an exploration of race-consciousness, painting “unequivocally, emphatically black figures,” through whose depiction he articulates his intention to “reclaim the image of blackness as an emblem of power.” Marshall has been commissioned to complete numerous permanent public works at locations including the Legler Branch Library in Chicago, The Print Center in Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Haas Atrium.

For the High Line, Marshall presents a large-scale, hand-painted mural adapted specifically for the High Line. Titled Above the Line, the mural is an extension of the artist’s Dailies series, specifically the cartoon strip “Rhythm Mastr,” an epic narrative of the struggle between tradition and modernity within the Afro-diasporic worldview. The works address the lack of black superheroes found in American comics, and raise historical and philosophical questions in black vernacular English. This particular comic painting, Above the Line, imagines the redevelopment of rooftop water tanks as luxury homes and condominiums.


Photos 1 – 7 by Timothy Schenck. Photos 6 – 8 by Steven Severinghaus.

Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955, United States) lives and works in Chicago. In 2016, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will host the first major American museum survey of Marshall’s work which is co-organized with The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2013); Secession, Vienna (2012); Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2010); and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (2009). Previous traveling solo exhibitions include those organized by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Belgium (2013); Camden Arts Centre, London (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2003); and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, IL (1998). Marshall’s work will be included in the upcoming 56th Venice Biennale (2015) and featured in major biennials such as the 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) as well as the Whitney Biennial, New York (1997). Marshall has been the recipient of numerous prizes, awards, and fellowships, including grants from the MacArthur Foundation (1997) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1991).



High Line Art is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional support from Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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