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Still from “Titus Kaphar: 2018 MacArthur Fellow”

Video

Titus Kaphar

In this video produced on the occasion of his 2018 MacArthur “genius” grant, Titus Kaphar speaks about the recurring themes in his work, his use of layering techniques, and the presence of multiple narratives. He also introduces NXTHVN, which he founded with Jason Price and Jonathan Brand in 2015. The nonprofit arts hub, located in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut, offers fellowships, residencies, and other professional development opportunities to artists, curators, and students.

Still from “Titus Kaphar: 2018 MacArthur Fellow”

Titus Kaphar, Impressions of Liberty, 2017, installation view, Maclean House, Princeton University, New Jersey © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey

Commission

Titus Kaphar
Impressions of Liberty

Titus Kaphar’s public sculpture Impressions of Liberty (2017) was commissioned by the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, in conjunction with the Princeton & Slavery Project. Kaphar’s work responds to archival records unearthed by the project, documenting an auction of six African American slaves as part of the estate of Samuel Finley, fifth president of Princeton University. Featuring portraits of an African American man, woman, and child etched in glass, framing a monumental bust of Finley carved into wood as a sculptural absence, the sculpture raises questions about who is remembered and who is invisible in our accounts of history, both written and visual. Impressions of Liberty was installed at Maclean House in Princeton, New Jersey, from November 6 to December 18, 2017.

Titus Kaphar, Impressions of Liberty, 2017, installation view, Maclean House, Princeton University, New Jersey © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey

Titus Kaphar. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova

Honor

Titus Kaphar
2018 MacArthur Fellow

Titus Kaphar was selected as a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. Each year the MacArthur Foundation awards fellowships—better known as “genius” grants—to individuals from diverse fields who are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities. Kaphar was recognized for his work highlighting the lack of representation of people of color in the canon of Western art with paintings that deconstruct the literal and visual structure of the artwork.

Titus Kaphar. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova

Titus Kaphar. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova

New Representation

Titus Kaphar

Gagosian is pleased to announce the representation of Titus Kaphar. A painter, sculptor, and filmmaker whose work addresses salient social and political concerns, Kaphar employs deconstructive techniques such as cutting, shredding, charring, and erasing, combining them with reconstructive acts such as stitching and binding to reexamine visual representation in Western art. Wielding the pictorial strategies of European classicists such as Diego Velázquez and Théodore Géricault in order to probe contested histories and colonialist legacies, he rewrites them into narratives of cultural empowerment. In his latest series of paintings, From a Tropical Space (2019–), Kaphar creates surreal, emotionally intense landscapes that are firmly rooted in the present. In conjunction with Kaphar’s representation by Gagosian, the gallery is also supporting NXTHVN (Next Haven), a nonprofit arts hub that the artist founded with Jason Price and Jonathan Brand in 2015 in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut.

Titus Kaphar. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova

Museum Exhibitions

Titus Kaphar, Language of the Forgotten, 2018, installation view, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jonathan Brand

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Titus Kaphar
Language of the Forgotten

September 11, 2018–March 30, 2020
MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts
massmoca.org

Through cutting, bending, sculpting, and remixing historical paintings and sculptures, Titus Kaphar often shifts the focus of their narratives to create new works that exist between fiction and quotationHis sculpture Language of the Forgotten depicts a monumental bust of Thomas Jefferson, carved as an inversion into wood, his profile immediately recognizable. Framed against this are portraits of figures etched into glass, standing in for the hundreds of thousands of untold narratives about usurped liberty—most famously brought to light in Jefferson’s case through the story of Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman believed to be the mother of his children. The work underscores Kaphar’s interest in history, in particular the question of whose stories get told and which ones get left out. 

Titus Kaphar, Language of the Forgotten, 2018, installation view, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Jonathan Brand

Titus Kaphar, Forgotten Soldier, 2019 © Titus Kaphar

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Titus Kaphar in
Forgotten Soldier

June 29, 2019–March 22, 2020
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Virginia
www.historyisfun.org

Forgotten Soldier explored personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution and their contributions toward establishing an independent nation. Documents, artifacts, and artworks, including a new work by Titus Kaphar, traced the experiences of African American soldiers who took part in the American cause for a free nation or took up arms for British forces in hopes of obtaining their own freedom.

Titus Kaphar, Forgotten Soldier, 2019 © Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar, Seeing Through Time 2, 2018 © Titus Kaphar

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Titus Kaphar in
Suffering from Realness

March 31, 2019–February 2, 2020
MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts
massmoca.org

Suffering from Realness explored the politics of representation and the ways in which artists use the body to grasp at and recenter the “aura of realness” in an age of uncertainty. The artists in this exhibition examine the human condition from all sides, creating works in various mediums that are both personal and universal, addressing racism, violence, gender equality, the politicized body of wartime, the anxious body, the complexity of responsibility, and the future. Work by Titus Kaphar was included.

Titus Kaphar, Seeing Through Time 2, 2018 © Titus Kaphar

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

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Redaction
A Project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts

March 31–May 5, 2019
MoMA PS1, New York
www.moma.org

Throughout their careers, Titus Kaphar and memoirist, poet, and attorney Reginald Dwayne Betts have used their varied mediums to confront the abuses of the criminal justice system. Redaction brought together poetry crafted by Betts from redacted legal documents with Kaphar’s etched portraits of incarcerated individuals, blending the voices of poet and artist with those of plaintiffs and prosecutors, reclaiming lost narratives and drawing attention to some of the many individuals whose lives have been impacted by mass incarceration.

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, UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, May 31, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork © Titus Kaphar

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UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light
Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar

May 31, 2018–January 6, 2019
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
npg.si.edu

This exhibition highlighted the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under- and misrepresentation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history. Titus Kaphar and Ken Gonzales-Day illuminate the contributions and sacrifices that people of color made during the country’s founding. Together, the work of these two artists demonstrates how the absence of certain figures and communities in art has preempted their recognition in national history, and, in the process, reclaims a space for them in the art historical context.

Installation view, UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, May 31, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork © Titus Kaphar

See all Museum Exhibitions for Titus Kaphar