In the art world, size metamorphoses from a quantity to a quality


“‘[Kehinde Wiley is] an interesting contemporary artist who brings together many of the same interests and ideas as the museum’s.’ said Karen Levitov, an associate curator at the Jewish Museum. The members of its curatorial team were so enamored of his work that when they saw ‘Alios Itzhak,’ they decided it was something the museum had to acquire.

“‘It was a perfect match,’ Ms. Levitov said. ‘It’s nine and a half feet tall. . . . ‘”

— Carol Vogel, “A Painting That Begat a Whole Show,” New York Times 16 September 2011: C25



About Kehinde Wiley:



“I have purchased a 4 × 5 Graflex and will start making contact prints, unretouched. From now on I will not sign retouched portraits! This is a daring step to make during a major economic crisis, but it had to be done! I have been psychically ill at times from signing my name to work which was not my work. I have done enough aesthetic whoring. I paid for the camera by the biggest and worst job of whoring I have done in years. At times during the work, I came near to throwing it in the fire and telling the poor unsuspecting subjects that I did not want their lousy money. I kept going by repeating to myself: ‘$380, $380! — you must not give in, this means a new camera, a new life.’ And so I went through with it.

“The 4 × 5 size is large enough, I hope, so that I will not be asked to enlarge; which means greater technical perfection; for no matter how well done, an enlargement does lose quality, cannot compare with a contact from the same negative. I do not dare to say ‘no enlargements,’ not yet; that will be the next step. But I will not sign, except duplicate prints from old negatives, any retouched order. This still leaves another step, which will follow logically, that I will accept no order that I am ashamed to sign, that I will never retouch again. But I must go carefully, I cannot let others suffer from my rashness.”

— Edward Weston, December 8, 1932. The Daybooks of Edward Weston. II. California. Ed. Nancy Newhall. Millerton, NY: Aperture, 1973. 265-66.