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.
Created in response to the covid-19 pandemic, the Artist Spotlight series highlights individual artists, one week at a time, whose exhibitions have been affected by the health crisis. A single artwork by the artist is made available with pricing information for forty-eight hours only.
Artist Spotlight: Titus Kaphar features a new work directly from the artist’s studio. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Titus Kaphar in his studio with his painting The Aftermath (2020), New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Artwork © Titus Kaphar. Photo: John Lucas
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: 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.
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.
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: 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?
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.
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
Monday, July 13, 2020, 11–11:30am EDT
Joining from his arts incubator NXTHVN in New Haven, Connecticut, Titus Kaphar will speak with Zoé Whitley, director at Chisenhale Gallery in London, live on the Design Emergency Instagram account. The pair will discuss Kaphar’s cover and accompanying written piece for the June 15, 2020, issue of Time, as well the artist’s use of absence as a form of visual expression. Founded by Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn, Design Emergency is an initiative that explores design’s impact on and role in the covid-19 crisis. To watch the live conversation, visit Design Emergency’s Instagram.
Titus Kaphar, From a Tropical Space, 2019 © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Alexander Harding
The June 15, 2020, issue of Time features Titus Kaphar’s Analogous Colors (2020) on its cover, as well as a written piece by the artist to accompany the work, titled “I cannot sell you this painting.” The painting depicts a Black mother holding her child, represented by an empty silhouette. “In her expression, I see the Black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies,” writes Kaphar.
The iconic red border of the cover includes the names of thirty-five Black men and women “whose deaths, in many cases by police, were the result of systemic racism and helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement,” writes D. W. Pine, Time’s creative director. “Their names are merely a fraction of the many more who have lost their lives because of the racist violence that has been part of this nation from its start.”
The cover is available for purchase on the Time Cover Store. The proceeds from sales will benefit Black-led organizations that are committed to advancing justice.
Cover of June 15, 2020, issue of Time, featuring Analogous Colors (2020) by Titus Kaphar. Artwork © Titus Kaphar
Through October 24, 2021
Boghossian Foundation, Brussels
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
Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time
Through March 20, 2022
Brooklyn Museum, New York
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
New Symphony of Time
Opened September 7, 2019
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson
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
Riffs and Relations
African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition
February 29, 2020–January 3, 2021
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
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