Collection: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
b. 1977, London; lives in London
King for an Hour, 2011
Oil on canvas
98-3/8 x 78-3/4 inches
Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds from PAMM's Collectors Council
(c) Sid Grossman¶Sid Hoeltzell

Immersed in shadow, the figure in King for an Hour bears a comical yet unnerving expression that adds to the painting's enigmatic and vaguely sinister quality. This air of mystery is compounded by the ambiguity of the figure's gender, as well as the provocatively emphasized whites of his/her eyes and teeth. The sitter's distinctive pose resembles that of a white, female nude that appears in Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, a painting from 1862-63 by the French artist Édouard Manet, which is often taken to exemplify the early development of modernist European art. King for an Hour is one of several works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - whose parents immigrated to London from the West African country of Ghana - that recall paintings by famous Western artists, from El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya to Paul Cezanne and John Singer Sargent. By inserting persons of color into images that echo landmark artworks by such established figures, Yiadom-Boakye draws attention to how people of African descent have either been misrepresented within or omitted from the art historical canon.¶

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