The incredible exhibit, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is at the Met Breuer through January 29th, so you have two weeks left to see it! If you haven't, you now have weekend plans. (Or next/week-after-next weekend pans.) If you've already been, consider going again.
I found it to be one of the most engrossing, urgent, visually stunning shows I've ever seen. It's also received stellar reviews across the board:
Darryl Pinckney, New York Review of Books:
Two things hit the viewer pretty soon into the Met Breuer's exhibition of Kerry James Marshall's beautiful work: figure after figure in his canvases is black, really black, so much so that that blackness becomes his signature. But Marshall's black people are not Kara Walker's haunting silhouettes, questioning presences stepping through the scrim of history. The blackness he gives his subjects is luminous, vibrant, and dense.
Jason Farago, The Guardian
Against the current backdrop of racist demagoguery and national disbelief, it arrives as a godsend. This stone-cold stunner of a retrospective ... proudly insists on the place of African Americans in the American artistic imagination. And yet that is only one of its achievements. It also, and perhaps more powerfully, grounds that placement inside a larger western artistic tradition, and utilizes the very tropes and techniques once used in exclusionary imagery to new, more moral ends.
Holland Cotter, New York Times
In painting African-American daily life, Mr. Marshall monumentalizes and ennobles it. Ordinary is extraordinary.
Patty Johnson, ArtFCity
Kerry James Marshall’s “Mastry” may be the best museum show I’ve seen in the last fifteen years. Statements like this can’t help but sound hyperbolic, but it’s not any less true. The historical depth to these paintings and the political importance of a show that so deftly depicts and places black figures within art history, simply can’t be overstated.
Debra Brehmer, Hyperallergic
It's fun to attempt to decode the many signs and signifiers in Marshall's paintings. But it is even more rewarding just to take them in, to stand before a glittering massive composition ... and feel the power of an artist who can juggle it all, who can translate a global wound into such hopeful and generous works.
Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker
Marshall’s formal command lets him get away with any extreme of sweetness or direness, exercising a painterly voice that spans octaves, from soprano trills to guttural roars.
Christian Viveros-Fauné, Artnet
Marshall’s collected canvases apply the forensic method to dissect what is arguably Western painting’s greatest we-know-whoddunit. Titled "Mastry," after the artist’s repeated confrontations with the Old Masters, his survey proposes, in the artist’s own words, a “counter-archive” to more than six centuries of black invisibility. To experience this show is to clock something amazing—Marshall has literally taken apart and reassembled Western art history one painting genre at a time.
If you're interested in learning more about Marshall and his process, T Magazine did a big feature in October. He was also profiled this past spring by ArtNews.
The Met Fifth Avenue (i.e., the original Met) is also hosting two public events related to the exhibition before it closes. On Friday, January 27, the Met is putting on "Art School—the Studio," an installment of its MetFriday series that will feature a range of artists and curators discussing how the Met approaches diversity in its collection.
On Saturday, January 28, the museum is putting on Kerry James Marshall: Creative Convening, an all-day panel that will feature a range of speakers, including Marshall. The event is currently sold-out but check back in case of cancellations. It will also be streaming on Facebook.
"Kerry James Marshall: Mastry" is open at the Met Breuer through January 29. The exhibition is accessible to wheelchair users.