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Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar, Behind the Myth of Benevolence, 2014 Oil on canvas, 59 × 34 × 7 inches (149.9 × 86.4 × 17.8 cm)© Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar, Behind the Myth of Benevolence, 2014

Oil on canvas, 59 × 34 × 7 inches (149.9 × 86.4 × 17.8 cm)
© Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar, Jerome LVII (2015) and Jerome LVIII (2015) Oil, gold leaf, and tar on wood panel, each: 10 × 9 inches (25.4 × 22.9 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Jerome LVII (2015) and Jerome LVIII (2015)

Oil, gold leaf, and tar on wood panel, each: 10 × 9 inches (25.4 × 22.9 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, The Jerome Project (Asphalt and Chalk) V, 2014 Graphite on asphalt paper, 49 × 35 ½ inches (124.5 × 90.2 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, The Jerome Project (Asphalt and Chalk) V, 2014

Graphite on asphalt paper, 49 × 35 ½ inches (124.5 × 90.2 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Billy Lee: Portrait in Tar, 2016 Tar and oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Billy Lee: Portrait in Tar, 2016

Tar and oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Ona Judge: Portrait in Tar, 2016 Tar and oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Ona Judge: Portrait in Tar, 2016

Tar and oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Twisted Tropes, 2016 Oil on canvas with antique frame, 53 × 57 × 11 inches (134.6 × 144.8 × 28 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Twisted Tropes, 2016

Oil on canvas with antique frame, 53 × 57 × 11 inches (134.6 × 144.8 × 28 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Impressions of Liberty, 2017 American sycamore, plywood, glass, high density urethane, graphite, and LED lights, 84 × 86 × 36 inches (213.4 × 218.4 × 91.4 cm), installation view, Maclean House, Princeton University, New Jersey© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey

Titus Kaphar, Impressions of Liberty, 2017

American sycamore, plywood, glass, high density urethane, graphite, and LED lights, 84 × 86 × 36 inches (213.4 × 218.4 × 91.4 cm), installation view, Maclean House, Princeton University, New Jersey
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey

Titus Kaphar, Menina, 2017 Oil on canvas, 76 × 54 inches (193 × 137.2 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Menina, 2017

Oil on canvas, 76 × 54 inches (193 × 137.2 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jeremy Lawson

Titus Kaphar, Shifting the Gaze, 2017 Oil on canvas, 84 × 108 inches (213.4 × 274.3 cm), Brooklyn Museum, New York© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Shifting the Gaze, 2017

Oil on canvas, 84 × 108 inches (213.4 × 274.3 cm), Brooklyn Museum, New York
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Seeing through Time, 2018 Oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, Seeing through Time, 2018

Oil on canvas, 60 × 48 inches (152.4 × 121.9 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener

Titus Kaphar, State Number Two (Dwayne Betts), 2019 Tar and oil on canvas, 59 ½ × 75 ¾ × 2 ⅞ inches (151.1 × 192.4 × 7.3 cm)© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Kris Graves

Titus Kaphar, State Number Two (Dwayne Betts), 2019

Tar and oil on canvas, 59 ½ × 75 ¾ × 2 ⅞ inches (151.1 × 192.4 × 7.3 cm)
© Titus Kaphar. Photo: Kris Graves

Installation view, Redaction: A Project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, MoMA PS1, New York, March 31–May 5, 2019 Artwork © Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Photo: Matthew Septimus

Installation view, Redaction: A Project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, MoMA PS1, New York, March 31–May 5, 2019

Artwork © Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Photo: Matthew Septimus

Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Untitled, 2019, from the Redaction project Etching and silkscreen on paper, 22 × 30 inches (55.9 × 76.2 cm)© Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Photo: Kris Graves

Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Untitled, 2019, from the Redaction project

Etching and silkscreen on paper, 22 × 30 inches (55.9 × 76.2 cm)
© Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Photo: Kris Graves

About

If we don’t amend history by making new images and new representations, we are always going to be excluding ourselves.
—Titus Kaphar

Painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist Titus Kaphar confronts history by dismantling classical structures and styles of visual representation in Western art in order to subvert them. Dislodging entrenched narratives from their status as “past” so as to understand and estimate their impact on the present, he exposes the conceptual underpinnings of contested nationalist histories and colonialist legacies and how they have served to manipulate both cultural and personal identity.

Through the deconstructive techniques of cutting, shredding, stitching, binding, and erasing both subject and support, Kaphar reconstructs new codes and modalities, reckoning on Black possibilities. In Yet Another Fight for Remembrance (2014), he used thick white brushstrokes to obscure the gesturing bodies of a group of African American men in the “Hands up, don’t shoot” position, and then repainted their outlines in black to reassert their formal presence. Thus the painting process itself became the embodiment of the ongoing struggle for social visibility and recognition. During his 2017 TED Talk, Kaphar performed, onstage, the whitewashing of his large-scale painting Shifting the Gaze (2017). Based on Frans Hals’s Family Group in a Landscape (1645–48), which portrays a wealthy Dutch family and their African servant,  Kaphar’s version eclipsed the family group with white paint, shifting attention entirely to the presence of this young servant.

Kaphar’s art addresses salient social and political concerns, but it also springs from his own life story. For example, his encounter with his estranged father, Jerome, has led to an ongoing multimedia exploration of the criminal justice system called The Jerome Project (2014–). This series of portraits began with Kaphar’s online discovery of the mug shots of ninety-seven African American men who shared his father’s first and last names. He paints gilded portraits of each man in the style of Byzantine devotional icons, and then dips them in tar. Initially, the depth to which each painting was immersed in tar corresponded to the time that each subject had spent behind bars; in later paintings, this has increased to represent the longer-term implications of social silencing that results from their incarceration.

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Titus Kaphar at NXTHVN, New Haven, Connecticut

NXTHVN

NXTHVN is a new national arts model that empowers emerging artists and curators of color through education and access. Through intergenerational mentorship, professional development, and cross-sector collaboration, NXTHVN accelerates professional careers in the arts. Join Titus Kaphar and Jason Price on a tour of the organization’s headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut. They discuss the founding and vision for this singular arts space.

Titus Kaphar in his studio, touching his painting.

Titus Kaphar: From a Tropical Space

Join the artist in his studio in New Haven, Connecticut, where he speaks about his latest paintings.

Titus Kaphar: Can Beauty Open Our Hearts to Difficult Conversations?

Titus Kaphar: Can Beauty Open Our Hearts to Difficult Conversations?

In this TED talk, presented during the sweeping protests against racism and police violence following the killing of George Floyd, Titus Kaphar describes how the beauty of a painting can draw the viewer in and allow difficult conversations to emerge. Kaphar discusses his own work and shares the idea behind NXTHVN, a new national arts model he founded to empower artists of color through education and access.

Titus Kaphar, Braiding possibility, 2020, Oil on canvas, 83 3/4 × 68 inches (212.7 × 172.7 cm)

Seeing the Child: Braiding possibility

Titus Kaphar and Tochi Onyebuchi present an excerpt from their short story “Seeing the Child,” a poetic rumination on Kaphar’s latest body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–).

Titus Kaphar in his studio, painting

Titus Kaphar: In the Studio

Jacoba Urist reports on a recent trip to the artist’s studio in New Haven, Connecticut, to see his new body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–). She writes on the emotional and sensory impact of these paintings and considers their singular place in Titus Kaphar’s oeuvre.

Titus Kaphar, Father and Son, 2010, oil on canvas, 59 ⅞ × 48 inches (152 × 122 cm). Photo: Jon Lam Photography, courtesy Friedman Benda

Titus Kaphar: Intricate Illusion

Bridget R. Cooks investigates the aesthetic and narrative conventions deployed by the artist, demonstrating how his paintings force provocative confrontations with history through complex modes of depiction.

The artist Titus Kaphar giving a TED talk

Titus Kaphar: Can Art Amend History?

Join Titus Kaphar as he talks about making paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. Working onstage, he points to the narratives coded in the language of art history as he creates a new painting, demonstrating how shifting our focus can prompt us to ask questions and confront unspoken truths.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Titus Kaphar in his studio, New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Artwork © Titus Kaphar

Award

Titus Kaphar
2020 WSJ Magazine Innovator Award

On November 11, 2020, Titus Kaphar was honored at the 2020 WSJ Magazine Innovator Awards, which has been recognizing inspiring talents from a variety of cultural pursuits for a decade. The musician and producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean presented the Art Innovator award to Kaphar, whose work explores the limited representation of Black people in Western painting and whose multidisciplinary arts incubator, NXTHVN, breaks the mold for nonprofit organizations. In the past the red-carpet event has been held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, but this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was filmed. To watch the ceremony, visit the WSJ Magazine’s YouTube channel

Titus Kaphar in his studio, New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Artwork © Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar at NXTHVN, New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Photo: John Dennis

In Conversation

FT Weekend Digital Festival 2020
Titus Kaphar and Jan Dalley

Friday, September 4, 2020, 8:42am edt (1:42pm BST)

As part of this year’s FT Weekend Digital Festival, Titus Kaphar will speak with Jan Dalley about the driving forces behind his work, as well as his nonprofit arts incubator, NXTHVN, which harnesses the power of creativity and education to change lives. During the conversation, a Gagosian Quarterly video about NXTHVN will premiere.

Gagosian is partnering to host the arts program throughout the three-day virtual event. Recent Gagosian Quarterly films on Dan ColenTheaster GatesJenny SavilleSarah Sze, and Stanley Whitney, will be screened between the sessions. To join, purchase tickets at ftweekend.live.ft.com

Titus Kaphar at NXTHVN, New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Photo: John Dennis

Left to right: Titus Kaphar, Nico Wheadon, and 2020–21 NXTHVN Fellows, New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: John Dennis, courtesy NXTHVN

Partnership

Gagosian and NXTHVN
Three New Programming and Funding Initiatives

Gagosian is pleased to announce three new initiatives in conjunction with its support of NXTHVN in New Haven, Connecticut. First, the gallery will endow the paid NXTHVN Apprenticeship Program for students from local high schools. Second, it will launch a professional development program for NXTHVN Fellows, adding to the organization’s existing education projects through discussions and studio visits with Gagosian staff. Finally, it will offer sales support to Pleading Freedom, an exhibition at the NXTHVN Gallery to raise funds for work toward racial justice.

NXTHVN is a new national arts model established by Titus Kaphar with cofounder and chairman of the board Jason Price and cofounder Jonathan Brand, which empowers artists and curators of color through education and access, mentorship and collaboration. NXTHVN connects high school students, early-career artists, and creative professionals with resources and networks vital to their success.

Left to right: Titus Kaphar, Nico Wheadon, and 2020–21 NXTHVN Fellows, New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: John Dennis, courtesy NXTHVN

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Museum Exhibitions

Taryn Simon, Press XL, from the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015, Brooklyn Museum, New York © Taryn Simon

Just Opened

The Slipstream
Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time

Through March 20, 2022
Brooklyn Museum, New York
www.brooklynmuseum.org

The Slipstream draws examples from Brooklyn Museum’s contemporary art collection to contemplate the profound disruption that occurred in 2020. Borrowing its title from an aeronautical term that refers to the pull of the current that is left in the wake of a large and powerful object, the exhibition examines the placement and displacement of power that runs through American history and continues today. The show features more than sixty works by multiple generations of artists from the 1960s to the present day, including Titus Kaphar and Taryn Simon.

Taryn Simon, Press XL, from the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015, Brooklyn Museum, New York © Taryn Simon

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled, 2000 © Ellen Gallagher

On View

Icons

Through October 24, 2021
Boghossian Foundation, Brussels
www.villaempain.com

From early European and Middle Eastern artifacts to modern and contemporary works, icons have inspired many believers, as well as artists, throughout the ages. This exhibition explores how spiritual dimensions have been incorporated into artworks from antiquity to the present day. Work by Michael Craig-Martin, Ellen Gallagher, Douglas Gordon, Duane Hanson, Titus Kaphar, and Andy Warhol is included.

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled, 2000 © Ellen Gallagher

Sally Mann, Deep South, Untitled (Emmett Till River Bank), 1998 © Sally Mann

On View

New Symphony of Time

Opened September 7, 2019
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson
www.msmuseumart.org

New Symphony of Time expands the boundaries of Mississippi’s identity, casting light on a shared past to help reflect an expansive, more inclusive future. The exhibition aims to explore personal and collective memory, history and the connection to place, and the roles artists play in pursuit of civil rights and racial equity through ancestry. Themes include migration, movement, and home; shared humanity; environment; and liberty. Work by Titus Kaphar and Sally Mann is included.

Sally Mann, Deep South, Untitled (Emmett Till River Bank), 1998 © Sally Mann

Titus Kaphar, Pushing Back the Light, 2012 © Titus Kaphar

Closed

Riffs and Relations
African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition

February 29, 2020–January 3, 2021
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
www.phillipscollection.org

This exhibition presents works by African American artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries alongside works by European artists from the early twentieth century. The show aims to examine cross-cultural conversations and presents the divergent works that reflect these complex dialogues. Work by Ellen Gallagher, Titus Kaphar, and Pablo Picasso is included.

Titus Kaphar, Pushing Back the Light, 2012 © Titus Kaphar

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Press