Figge Acquires Early Work by Artist Kehinde Wiley
August 5, 2021

Davenport, Iowa (Thursday, August 5, 2021) – The Figge Art Museum acquires early painting by renowned American artist Kehinde Wiley. Wiley is best known for being selected and commissioned to paint the official presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

The untitled oil on plywood panel painting recently acquired by the Figge was painted in 1998 while Wiley was an undergraduate at the San Francisco Art Institute. He graduated with a BFA in 1999 and received his MFA from Yale in 2001. This work demonstrates Wiley’s artistic mastery and vision while still a young man.  Wiley was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018.

“The untitled painting is from an early series when I was a student, exploring the figure in a landscape,” said Kehinde Wiley. “It was during this body of work that I began formalizing my relationship with the body and the ground, with the field and the sitter. Actually visualizing the landscape itself as a type of timeline, where the horizon line represents the past while the figure represents the present tense. These are notions of past and present which run throughout the history of the Western canon of painting. I was specifically interested in pointing to the notion of malleable identity, whether as who you are now, who you have been, or who you might be perceived as “being.” This was a useful metaphor for me in that respect, because I was engaging it as a type of signifier of layers—layers of identity, layers of self, layers of sexuality, gender, etc.”

“We are overjoyed to have acquired this important early work by Kehinde Wiley. His mastery of the medium at such a young age should serve as inspiration for young artists in our community and beyond.  We are fortunate to include this wonderful work in the Figge’s increasingly diverse and important permanent collection,” said Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave.  

Wiley’s history-making portrait of Barack Obama is currently on a five-city tour with the first stop being the Art Institute of Chicago where the Obama portraits exhibition is on view through August 15.

The Figge’s untitled Wiley painting will be on view in the Figge’s Quad City Bank & Trust Grand Lobby through September 24. The painting will be on permanent exhibition on the museum’s second-floor beginning Saturday, September 25.

About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is dedicated to bringing art and people together. Located on the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street, the Figge is the premier art exhibition and education facility between Chicago and Des Moines. Its landmark glass building, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections and presents world-class exhibitions, art classes, lectures, and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Museum hours are 10 a.m.­­-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are not required, but can be made at or by calling 563-345-6632. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID and $4 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings. You can become a member for as little as $50 by visiting the Figge website. The Figge Café is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit


Orientation Gallery
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