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Who, What, Wear

Selections from the Permanent Collection

Malick Sidibe
Groupe des Barbus, 1969
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Jean Pigozzi, Geneva, Switzerland 02.1.1

Selections from the Permanent Collection

Kehinde Wiley
Conspicuous Fraud Series #1 (Eminence), 2001
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Anne Ehrenkranz  02.10.14

Selections from the Permanent Collection

Malick Sidibe
Groupe des Barbus, 1969
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Jean Pigozzi, Geneva, Switzerland 02.1.1

Selections from the Permanent Collection

Kehinde Wiley
Conspicuous Fraud Series #1 (Eminence), 2001
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Anne Ehrenkranz  02.10.14

Nov 10, 2011Aug 12, 2012

Who, What, Wear: Selections from the Permanent Collection looks at evolutions in style—self-expression, fashion, artistic technique and societal ideals of beauty—as seen through the Studio Museum’s permanent collection. While artists including James Van Der Zee (1886–1983) and Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) evoke the Harlem community as an influential and iconic arbiter of style, this exhibition is national and international in scope, surveying artists and subjects from places as varied as West Africa, the Caribbean and the American South. Including both posed portraits and candid scenes, the works on view emphasize how individuals choose to present themselves, rather than how others have represented them historically. Often these depictions oppose photographic conventions that have reiterated assumptions about what people are supposed to represent, rather than who they are as individuals. The figures on view here defy these practices, demonstrating a complex array of influences and references— hip-hop and pop music, new media and technology, African textiles, traditional dress, street style—that, taken together, refuse any singular “look” or aesthetic and mark culture and tradition as alive and constantly changing.

Hear more about Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita, two artists in Who, What, Wear, from Candace Keller, Assistant Professor of African Art at Michigan State University.