Hammer Projects: Kevin Beasley

Exhibition Website

Jan 21 2017 - Apr 23 2017

Hammer Museum

Los Angeles, CA

New York–based artist Kevin Beasley transforms the museum’s Vault Gallery into an elaborate environment inspired by Bernini’s Baroque altarpiece in Saint Peter’s Basilica and an infamous image of Black Panther Huey P. Newton. 

The New York–based artist Kevin Beasley imbues his sculptures with both personal associations and references to current events, social movements, and economic realities. Using resin and foam to give shape and solidity to soft materials such as T-shirts, house dresses, and bandannas, he gives his works a pronounced presence while also calling attention to what is absent. The remnants of bodies in the form of used clothing, or materials like acoustic foam panels, which give shape to the elusiveness of sound, are activated in a practice rooted in assemblage. Inspired by the Vault Gallery’s arched ceiling’s allusion to sacred architecture, the installation is a contemporary interpretation of Bernini’s seventeenth-century Baroque altarpiece in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Beasley replaces Saint Peter’s chair with a wicker “peacock” chair of the type that became iconic after Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton was photographed seated in one holding a shotgun in one hand and a spear in the other. In Beasley’s remix, two historical references are united to create an environment that is bold and lively while simultaneously ghostly and mournful. 

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • Sculpture
  • American
  • Contemporary
  • Kevin Beasley

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