The exhibition “The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye” is on view through May 11 in the Huntington Art Gallery. Photo by Deborah Miller.
An installation of contemporary British paintings of fictional Black characters has been juxtaposed with The Huntington's collection of 18th-century British portraits in "The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye," an exhibition on view through May 11 in the Huntington Art Gallery.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is among the most important artists working in Britain today. Five of her recent, portrait-like studies are displayed adjacent to the historic Thornton Portrait Gallery, where full-length portraits by Gainsborough, Lawrence, Reynolds, and Romney anchor The Huntington’s British art collection. The exhibition is curated by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Hilton Als, staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine and associate professor of writing at Columbia University.
Yiadom-Boakye’s figures are drawn from the world of found images and imagination. She typically finishes each painting in a single day, infusing the works with freshness and spontaneity, as if they were painted from life.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Brothers To A Garden, 2017. Oil on linen, 59 x 48 in. © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Corvi-Mora, London.
“The uncanny mix of informality and mystery in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s ‘non-portrait’ figural paintings creates a fascinating dialogue with The Huntington’s collection of highly formal, 18th-century British portraits of white, upper-class figures,” says Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington. “The juxtaposition of her work helps expand the story that we tell around British art and the traditions of figural representation across centuries.”
Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she lives and works today. Her paintings are included in many public collections, including the Tate Collection, London; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., among others.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Greenhouse Fantasies, 2014. Oil on canvas, 28 x 24 in. © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Corvi-Mora, London.
The exhibition is the second in a trilogy at The Huntington that originated at the Yale Center for British Art. The first focused on the work of Celia Paul, and the final installment in 2021 will highlight the work of Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
This exhibition's presentation at The Huntington is made possible by generous support from the WHH Foundation, Laura and Carlton Seaver, and the LLWW Foundation.
Thea M. Page is the assistant vice president for Communications and Marketing at The Huntington.