Kehinde Wiley will unveil his massive sculpture “Rumors of War,” created in response to Richmond’s Confederate monuments, in Times Square on Friday at 2 p.m.
The statue will remain on view in Times Square for several weeks.
In December, it will be moved to Richmond to its permanent home in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
The monumental sculpture will be cast in bronze and will represent an African-American youth in a striking pose sitting astride a horse. Mounted on a pedestal, “Rumors of War” will be roughly the same size as the statue of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Ave., which Wiley encountered while visiting Richmond for his solo show at the VMFA and inspired him to create “Rumors of War.”
Known by many as the official portrait artist of President Barack Obama, Wiley has built his career creating larger-than-life, regal portraits of minorities in classical poses, such as young African American men in modern clothing on horseback or holding swords, positioned in ways typically associated with wealthy and powerful white men.
The 42-year-old artist’s paintings reference the Old Masters, with Wiley placing his contemporary subjects in classical settings.
“Wiley’s young, African-American subject(s) present a powerful visual repositioning of young black men in our public consciousness while directly engaging the national conversation around monuments and their role in perpetuating incomplete narratives and contemporary inequities,” the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts said in a statement announcing the Times Square unveiling.
“Rumors of War” will be placed at the museum’s entrance on Arthur Ashe Boulevard just a few blocks away from the J.E.B. Stuart monument, offering a counterpoint to the Confederate monuments. Visitors will be able to walk around it and see it from all sides.
“Rumors of War” was acquired by the VMFA in late June for an undisclosed sum and is the most expensive acquisition of a sculpture the VMFA has ever made.
The acquisition was funded by an endowment of private donations, not state money.