New York City, NY
Titus Kaphar’s Shifting the Gaze draws our attention to narratives from the past that illuminate conditions in the present.
Kaphar completed the painting, a loose copy of a seventeenth-century family portrait by the Dutch artist Frans Hals, onstage during a 2017 TED talk. In a dramatic finale, he picked up a large paint brush and proceeded to obliterate many of the figures in the painting with broad strokes of white paint, leaving a Black boy as the center of the composition. By shifting the spectator’s gaze to the boy, believed to be the family servant, Kaphar brings into focus individuals who are often deliberately overlooked in the historical record, for reasons that include race, class, or gender. By doing so, he makes a case for the need to write new, more honest and inclusive histories.
Each exhibition in the One Brooklyn series focuses on an individual work chosen from our encyclopedic collection, revealing the many stories woven into a single work of art.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website