New York-based portraitist Kehinde Wiley will be awarded the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts. Known for his flashy paintings that depict black men and women in the style of Old Master portraiture, Wiley is being honored for using his art to promote cultural diplomacy. He will receive his medal from Secretary of State John Kerry on January 21. Past medal honorees include Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems.
First awarded in 2012, the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts is given to artists for their commitment to Art in Embassies, a diplomatic program that encourages U.S. artists to go abroad and work with other artists. For AIE’s latest project, set to happen in 2017, Jenny Holzer will make a collaborative sculpture at the U.S. Embassy in London.
The announcement precedes another landmark in the artist’s career—”Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic,” the painter’s first museum survey, which will open at the Brooklyn Museum in February.
Roberts & Tilton, one of the galleries that represents Wiley, confirmed the news.