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b. 1973, USA

Amy Sherald Biography

The general public's knowledge of artist Amy Sherald rose considerably after she was invited to paint Michelle Obama in 2018.

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Through her portraits of African Americans, Sherald has extended the discourse about racial stereotypes and representation in historical and contemporary American art. She is known for painting her subjects' skin tones in grisaille and contrasting them with vibrantly coloured clothing and pastel backgrounds to heighten a sense of surreality and timelessness.

Amy Sherald graduated with a BFA from Clark Atlanta University in 1997, and received her MFA from Baltimore's Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004. The artist said in a 2016 interview that living in Baltimore shifted her concern from autobiographical work to that which focused on addressing the imbalance in representations of African Americans.

Amy Sherald's use of grisaille is in part inspired by the portraits of African American families that W.E.B. Du Bois compiled for the 1900 Paris Exposition. By presenting photographic evidence of African American affluence, Du Bois sought to challenge the racist and stereotypical representation of black people. Sherald's figures, rendered in neutral grayscale, evoke historical black-and-white photographs while dissociating race from colour.

In 2016, with Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) (2014), Amy Sherald became the first woman to win the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Based on a photograph of a friend, in the work a woman in a vintage dress and a red hat raises an oversized teacup in her hand. The artist told the National Portrait Gallery that the work was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and addresses the notion of self-presentation, considering 'the idea of being seen as anything other than the colour of her skin'.

The Outwin prize led to Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, in which the former first lady of the United States is seated against a soft blue background. Her Michelle Smith dress fabric pattern references African American quilting traditions and the modernist abstractions of Piet Mondrian. Unveiled in 2018, Sherald's portrait increased attendance to the gallery alongside Kehinde Wiley's portrait of former United States president Barack Obama.

the heart of the matter... (2019)—Amy Sherald's solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, New York—featured a new body of works focusing on young African Americans. In full-length and nearly full-length portraits, the artist painted semi-fictional figures drawn from photographs she took of anonymous people. Many face the front, as is characteristic of her work, such as The girl next door (2019), who appears in a brightly coloured polka-dot dress.

In If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it (2019), on the other hand, a young man sits on a green steelwork high up in the sky. The work recalls the photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper (1932), which depicted white-presenting ironworkers eating lunch on a crossbeam of the Rockefeller Center. Sherald's reference to this work hints at African Americans' generally unrecognised contribution to building the contemporary United States.

Amy Sherald's Miss Everything was part of the travelling exhibition The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today, which began at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., in 2016 and toured to Washington, Texas, and Missouri over the following two years. In December 2020, The Bathers (2015)—a portrait of two African American women in swimsuits—exceeded its presale estimate by nearly 30 times at Phillips' Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, selling for $4.2. million.

Amy Sherald Solo Exhibitions include:

Amy Sherald, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas (2018); Amy Sherald, moniquemeloche LES, New York (2017); Off The Chain: American Art Unfettered, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, Virginia (2015).

Amy Sherald Group Exhibitions include:

Artists for New York, Hauser & Wirth, New York (2020); In This Imperfect Present Moment, Seattle Art Museum (2018); Face to Face: Los Angeles Collects Portraiture, California African American Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Fictions, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); Visual Art and the American Experience, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. (2016).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Exhibition view: Amy Sherald, The Great American Fact, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (20 March–6 June 2021). © Amy Sherald. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

Amy Sherald Featured Artworks

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A Midsummer Afternoon Dream by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldA Midsummer Afternoon Dream, 2020Oil on canvas
269.2 x 256.6 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
An Ocean Away by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldAn Ocean Away, 2020Oil on canvas
330.2 x 274.3 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Hope is the thing with feathers (The little bird) by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldHope is the thing with feathers (The little bird), 2020Oil on linen
137.2 x 109.2 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldThere is no charm equal to tenderness of heart, 2019Oil on canvas
137.2 x 109.2 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
The girl next door by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldThe girl next door, 2019Oil on canvas
137.2 x 109.2 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Precious jewels by the sea by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldPrecious jewels by the sea, 2019Oil on canvas
304.8 x 274.3 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it by Amy Sherald contemporary artwork
Amy SheraldIf you surrendered to the air, you could ride it, 2019Oil on canvas
330 x 274.3 x 6.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery

Amy Sherald Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Amy Sherald, The Great American Fact at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles
Open Now
20 March–6 June 2021 Amy Sherald The Great American Fact Hauser & WirthLos Angeles
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Artists for New York at Hauser & Wirth, 548 West 22nd Street, New York
Closed
1–22 October 2020 Group Exhibition Artists for New York Hauser & Wirth548 West 22nd Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Amy Sherald, the heart of the matter… at Hauser & Wirth, 548 West 22nd Street, New York
Closed
10 September–26 October 2019 Amy Sherald the heart of the matter… Hauser & Wirth548 West 22nd Street, New York

Amy Sherald Represented By

Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth New York, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz

Amy Sherald In Ocula Magazine

Rashid Johnson Brings ‘The Crisis’ to Storm King Ocula News Rashid Johnson Brings ‘The Crisis’ to Storm King New York, 6 April 2021

Johnson conceived the warning-sign-yellow work before Covid-19 ravaged the globe.

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Portraitist Amy Sherald Obliterates Auction Record Ocula News Portraitist Amy Sherald Obliterates Auction Record New York, 9 December 2020

Works by Black artists outstripped estimates several times over at Phillips' New York auction last night.

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Amy Sherald In Related Press

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AMY SHERALD with Osman Can Yerebakan Related Press AMY SHERALD with Osman Can Yerebakan 1 October 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

Where does a masterful painter, a portraitist, go after painting the portrait of a First Lady? The answer is in Amy Sherald's grasping, intimate, and serene paintings of subjects she pulls from the crux of life, grasping the heart of the matter in each model. Borrowed from the first chapter of bell hooks's book Salvation: Black People and Love:...

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The Quiet Introspection of Amy Sherald’s New Portraits Related Press The Quiet Introspection of Amy Sherald’s New Portraits 27 September 2019, Hyperallergic

After climbing the stairs of Hauser & Wirth's Chelsea gallery, I encountered Amy Sherald's gripping portrait of a young Black man whose eyes convey a sense of quiet introspection that persists throughout her solo exhibition the heart of the matter... His subtle expression is rendered in shades of grey that contrast with the soft orange and...

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Your Concise New York Art Guide for Fall 2019 Related Press Your Concise New York Art Guide for Fall 2019 10 September 2019, Hyperallergic

As always, there are many wonderful exhibitions, film festivals, and art events taking place throughout the fall in New York. We've put together our recommendations, and hope that they encourage you to explore the artistic happenings of this great city. Focusing on museums, art nonprofits, and galleries that continue to make New York a global hub...

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Best of 2018: Our Top 20 Exhibitions Across the United States Related Press Best of 2018: Our Top 20 Exhibitions Across the United States 21 December 2018, Hyperallergic

In 2018, artists and curators across the United States have been crafting brilliant exhibitions across the US, exploring themes of identity and community in innovative ways. Ebony G. Patterson made a maximalist tribute to victims of violence in her home country of Jamaica, while Joel Otterson crafted work recalling his parents' professions as a...

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