Amy Sherald: In the Studio

‘The paintings are a resting place for people to see a reflection of themselves that is not in resistance or contention. It’s just a black person being a person.’—Amy Sherald

  • Oct 7, 2019

On the occasion of her first exhibition with the gallery, we visited Amy Sherald in her studio as she put finishing touches on eight new paintings, and through discussion, contextualized her work within the tradition of American portraiture. She is joined in the film by Erin Christovale, Associate Curator at the Hammer Museum, Antwaun Sargent, Writer & Critic, and Jessica Bell Brown, Independent Curator & Art Historian, who provided further insights on Sherald’s practice.

Amy Sherald, If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it, 2019 © Amy Sherald. Photo: Joseph Hyde

Amy Sherald, Precious jewels by the sea, 2019 © Amy Sherald. Photo: Joseph Hyde

These paintings are created from carefully composed photographs of subjects Sherald finds in her everyday life. We take a deeper look at the artist’s process of transforming these images into paintings that become less about the subject, and more about the new archetype Sherald wants to create. ‘These people have let go of that idea of being watched,’ says Sherald. ‘They’re there to meet your gaze in a different way. And it’s a critique on historical black representation, whether it be in photography or painting.’ Sherald’s new paintings invite viewers to reconsider commonly accepted notions of race and representation. The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl wrote, ‘she activates the double function of portraiture as the recognition of a worldly identity and, in the best instances, the surprise of an evident inner life. Race applies as a condition and a cause for resetting the mainstream of Western art.’ – ‘Amy Sherald. the heart of the matter…’ is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street through 26 October 2019.