One of the most important American contemporary artists, Kerry James Marshall is known for artworks that address the ‘crisis of under-representation’ of the black figure in the pictorial traditions of the Western world, from museums to comic books. His work has been widely celebrated in major museum retrospectives such as Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff (Antwerp, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Madrid) in 2014 and Mastry (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles) in 2017, and through numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1997.
Best known as a painter, Marshall has throughout his career also produced a vast graphic oeuvre that has been seldom seen and rarely documented. An assiduous worker, he spent his youth acquiring time-honored skills of art – drawing and painting, but also wood engraving and printing. By his midtwenties, he recalls, ‘I could paint in egg tempera.… I was good at printmaking. I could do woodcuts, etchings, aquatints. I knew all of those techniques.’
Most of his prints have been produced not in professional print workshops, but by the artist, working alone in his studio. They range from images the size of postcards to his 50-foot-long, 12 panel woodcut Untitled (1998–99), to iterations of his ongoing magnum opus, Rythm Mastr. And while some have entered prominent museum collections, many exist only in private collections or the artist’s archive and are unknown to the public.
This catalog raisonné offers the first public account of these important works and the first in-depth study of the role of printed images and print processes in Marshall’s work as a whole.