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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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
Language of the Forgotten
September 11, 2018–March 30, 2020
MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts
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 quotation. His 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 in
June 29, 2019–March 22, 2020
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Virginia
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 in
Suffering from Realness
March 31, 2019–February 2, 2020
MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts
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
A Project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts
March 31–May 5, 2019
MoMA PS1, New York
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
UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light
Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar
May 31, 2018–January 6, 2019
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
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