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Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence

As an extension of the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, organized at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini during the 59th Venice Biennale, the Musée d’Orsay is displaying three monumental works by the artist within its Nave: a painting, Femme piquée par un serpent (Woman Bitten By A Snake) (Mamadou Gueye), and two recently-completed sculptures (An Archeology of Silence and The Young Tarantine).

These works take an in-depth look into the approach developed through the DOWN series that started in 2008. Initially inspired by Hans Holbein’s famous Le Christ mort au tombeau (The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb), as well as historical paintings and sculptures of fallen warriors and figures at rest, Wiley created a disturbing series featuring bodies of color lying on the ground. He thus re-conceptualizes classic pictorial forms in order to create a contemporary version of the monumental portrait that resounds with violence, pain, death and ecstasy.