Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall

Paint it black

Imagine being seen for who you really are, a central figure in narration. In this powerful interview American artist Kerry James Marshall talks about how he explores the presence and absence of the black figure in art history.

“We live in a material world, in which the things we see shape our expectations.” Meet artist Kerry James Marshall in this interview about his development as an artist, where he explains that he wishes to help make equality a reality by placing the black figure in the center of the painting. Marshall also talks about how growing up as a witness to movements and riots shaped his perception of the world, and how he found that art should be embedded in the political reality, and that as a painter he should work with social transformation.

Black invisibility is a psychological issue, Marshall says. It means that people do not want to see you in the fullness of who you are: "Reading The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison really is what set up this exploration, for me, of this simultaneous capacity of being and not being." As an artist Marshall has explored this idea of invisibility and visibility, presence and absence through the use of different shades of black on black, working with political events and historical figures, as well as reworking classic works of art from art history with black bodies and figures: “It’s one thing to stand by and admire the work of other people, the moment that I recognize the greatness of those things it’s unacceptable to me to not also try to match the sophistication and complexity and the appeal of those works, but doing it with images that have people who look like me in them.”

Kerry James Marshall (b.1955) is known for his large-scale paintings, sculptures, and other objects that take African-American life and history as their subject matter. His work often deals with the effects of the Civil Rights movement on domestic life, in addition to working with elements of popular culture. Marshall graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in 1978.

Kerry James Marshall was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark, 2014.

Photographed by Mathias Nyholm

Editing by Kasper Bech Dyg

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Olafur Eliasson

    A Riverbed Inside the Museum

    Like lava from a volcano, Olafur Eliasson’s fascinating installation ‘Riverbed’ runs through the Danish Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The highly praised artist here shares his intriguing thoughts behind the installation.

  • Wim Wenders

    Advice to the young

    “Do what nobody else can do except for you.” Such is the unflagging advice from German filmmaker Wim Wenders, who in this video gives us his take on how to become a successful artist.

  • Richard Serra

    On 'Porten i slugten'

    Richard Serra is one of the world's most significant sculptors. In this video Serra presents one piece and reveals how he approaches an assignment in order to create the extraordinary experience for the viewer which is his trademark.

  • William Kentridge

    How we make sense of the world

    "There is a desperation in al certainty. The category of political uncertainty, philosophical uncertainty, uncertainty of images is much closer to how the world is", says South African artist William Kentridge in this video presenting his work.

  • Ian McKeever

    Mystery to the Viewer

    “I am trying to take the sense of speed out of the visual world of looking.” Interview with renowned British artist, Ian McKeever.

  • Alaa al-Aswany

    Dictatorship is a Disease

    Why is dictatorship so hard to get rid of? Best-selling Egyptian novelist, Alaa al-Aswany, here presents us with surprising takes on a continuously hot topic.

  • Keith Tyson

    A pattern of mystery

    When British artist Keith Tyson was 13 years old he took apart his computer and “it was a complete mystery how it worked”. Even though he understood programming, the interconnectedness of everything was like a labyrinth, he says.

  • Chimamanda Adichie

    Beauty does not solve any problem

    I am drawn to the beauty of sentences, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie confesses in this interview. Nevertheless it is important to keep a distance to your characters.

  • David Hockney

    Photoshop is boring

    In this video David Hockney meditates on the concept of seeing. On depicting spring, on Picasso's owl that thrills us, on Photoshop and on why magazine images today are so dull - and on the similarities between seat belts and bondage.

  • Sarah Sze

    The meaning between things

    ”A sculpture is constantly growing and dying at the same time. It is a parallel process of construction and deconstruction.” Meet contemporary artist Sarah Sze in her New York studio.

  • Patti Smith

    Banga - acoustic version

    The title song from Patti Smith’s recent album 'Banga' performed live by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye at the Louisiana Literature festival August 2012. Banga is named after a dog in Bulgakov’s novel ’The Master and Margarita’.

  • Herta Müller

    How could I forgive

    ”Reconciliation? How can I reconcile with a regime? It's a huge machine. Each person was the dictatorship itself.” Interview with German-Romanian writer Herta Müller, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009. If you only see one interview with her, it must be this one!