Tag Archives: Kerry James Marshall


Noah Davis (1983–2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of the Underground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’ paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.

Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, [Mark Rothko], and Luc Tuymans. Davis’ pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.

Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded—along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis—the Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’ dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of the UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’ unique curatorial gestures.

In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from the MOCA Los Angeles’ collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’ passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at the UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists. — Helen Molesworth

The exhibition NOAH DAVIS—curated by Molesworth—is now on view at David Zwirner in New York. An iteration of the show will open at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles in March 2020.

A new Davis monograph—featuring an introduction by Molesworth and oral history interviews that she conducted with Davis’ friends, family, and colleagues—is forthcoming.


Through February 22.

David Zwirner

525 and 533 West 19th Street, New York City.

Noah Davis, Noah Davis, David Zwirner, January 16–February 22, 2020, from top: 1975 (8), 2013, oil on canvas in artist’s frame; LA Nights, 2008, oil on wood panel; Pueblo del Rio: Arabesque, 2014, oil on canvas; Single Mother with Father Out of the Picture, 2007–2008, oil, acrylic, and graphite on canvas; Black Widow, 2007, acrylic and gouache on canvas; The Waiting Room, 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas; Painting for My Dad, 2011, oil on canvas; Untitled (Birch Trees), 2010, oil on canvas; Carlos’ World, 2014–2015, oil on canvas; Leni Riefenstahl, 2010, oil on canvas; Man with Alien and Shotgun, 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas; Noah Davis in Los Angeles, 2009 (detail), photograph by Patrick O’Brien-Smith; The Last Barbeque, 2008, oil on canvas; The Summer House, 2010, oil on canvas; Pueblo del Rio: Concerto, 2014, oil on canvas; Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas; Imaginary Enemy, 2009, oil on wood panel. Images courtesy and © the Estate of Noah Davis, the photographers, and David Zwirner; quote courtesy and © Helen Molesworth and David Zwirner.


“We knew it was coming but the finality of his passing makes it even more devastating. Okwui was this enormously prophetic figure, wise beyond his years, whose insights—vision, if you will—literally shaped the universe many of us now inhabit. He was like an enormous tree in the glare, whose shadow provided refuge, hospitality, generosity, and love for so many.” — John Akomfrah

Okwui Enwezor—the great historian, curator, writer, editor, and former artistic director of Haus der Kunst—has died in Munich following four years of cancer treatment.

Enwezor, who was 55 at the time of his death, is celebrated for his paradigm-shifting directorship of Documenta 11 in 2002, and the 56th Venice BiennaleAll the World’s Futures—in 2015.

A writer and editor in demand, Enwezor’s contributions will live on in the work of the artists he championed.

From top: Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (2009), by Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu, image courtesy Damiani; John Akomfrah: Signs of Empire (2018), contributing text by Enwezor, image courtesy the New Museum; Candice Breitz: The Scripted Life (2010), contributing text by Enwezor, image courtesy Kunsthaus Bregenz; Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art from the Walther Collection (2017), contributing text by Enwezor, image courtesy Steidl and the Walther Collection; Gary Simmons: Paradise (2012), conversation with Enwezor, image courtesy Damiani; Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff (2014), contributing text by Enwezor, image courtesy Ludion; Lyle Ashton Harris: Excessive Exposure (2010), text by Enwezor, image courtesy Gregory R. Miller & Co.; Home Lands–Land Marks: Contemporary Art from South Africa (2009), contributing text by Enwezor, image courtesy Haunch of Venison.


Join Darby English—author of the forthcoming To Describe a Life: Essays at the Intersection of Art and Race Terror—for a talk at the Hammer about “art’s interaction with instituted forms of historical subjectivity and experience.”*

English is featured in Jarrett Earnest’s new book What It Means to Write About Art.


Wednesday, November 28, at 7:30 pm.

Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top: Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (policeman), 2015,© Kerry James Marshall, courtesy the artist and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pope.LSkin Set: Purple People Are Reason Bicarbonate, 2006-2007, ink, Wite-Out, and coffee on paper; Boym Partners, Lorraine Motel, April 4, 1968, from the series Buildings of Disaster, 1998, bonded nickel; book cover image—Zoe Leonard, Tipping Point, 2016, fifty-three copies of the first edition of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Dial Press, New York—by Wilcox Design, courtesy Yale University Press.


This is the closing weekend for TRUTH & BEAUTY—CHARLES WHITE AND HIS CIRCLE, an exhibition of works by the great draftsman and his friends and colleagues, reflecting White’s working life in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles—the host cities of his concurrent retrospective.

Among White’s circle and included in the show are Romare Bearden, Betye SaarRoy DeCarava, Philip Evergood, Robert Gwathmey, David Hammons, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Norman Lewis, Ben ShahnJohn Biggers, Eldzier Cortor, Kerry James Marshall, and Hale Woodruff.


Through Saturday, November 10.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 100 Eleventh Avenue (at 19th Street), New York City.



Through January 13.

Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York City.

The retrospective will be on view in Los Angeles in early 2019, along with two coincident exhibitions: LIFE MODEL—CHARLES WHITE AND HIS STUDENTS at LACMA’s satellite gallery at Charles White Elementary School—formerly Otis Art Institute, where the artist taught for many years—and a show at CAAM.


February 17 through June 9.

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top:

Charles WhiteJ’Accuse! No.5, 1966, Wolff crayon and charcoal on paper.

Betye SaarThe Mystic Window #1, 1965, assemblage with etchings, graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper in antique window frame.

Romare BeardenFlights and Fantasy, 1970, mixed media collage of various papers and synthetic polymer paint on Masonite.

Charles WhiteUntitled, 1945, tempera and graphite on illustration board.

Charles WhiteJuba #2, 1965, Wolff crayon and oil wash on illustration board.

Image credit: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.



Esopus is over, for now at least.

The annual arts journal that counted Claire Denis, Jenny Holzer, Kerry James Marshall, Anish Kapoor, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Francine Prose, and Tsai Ming-Liang among its contributors has suspended publication.

Join founding editor Tod Lippy for the launch of his new publication TOD LIPPY—ESOPUS DRAWINGS.


Thursday, November 1, from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Printed Matter

231 Eleventh Avenue (at 26th Street), New York City.

From top: Tod Lippy—Esopus DrawingsEsopus magazine back issues (2); Tod Lippy—Esopus Drawings. Images courtesy of Tod Lippy.