Portrait of Kehinde Wiley, 2018. Photographer: Brad Ogbonna.

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Times Square Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and Sean Kelly, New York announce the unveiling of artist Kehinde Wiley’s first monumental public sculpture “Rumors of War” in Times Square, New York. 

This large-scale work is installed on the Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets. Following its presentation in Times Square, “Rumors of War” will be permanently installed on historic Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond at the entrance to the VMFA, a recent acquisition to the museum’s world-class collection.

Kehinde Wiley is a world-renowned visual artist, best known for his vibrant portrayals of contemporary African-American and African-Diasporic individuals that subvert the hierarchies and conventions of European and American portraiture. Rumors of War, his largest work to date, continues Wiley’s career-long investigation of the politics of representation, race, gender, and power. With this new sculpture, Wiley returns to equestrian portraiture to engage its complicated visual rhetoric of warfare and heroism on an epic scale.  Mounted proudly on its large stone pedestal, Wiley’s monumental bronze sculpture, Rumors of War, is the artist’s direct response to the ubiquitous Confederate sculptures that populate the United States, particularly in the South. Sitting astride a massive horse in a striking pose, Wiley’s young, African-American subject is dressed in urban streetwear.

Kehinde Wiley states, “The inspiration for Rumors of War is war—is an engagement with violence. Art and violence have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other. Rumors of War attempts to use the language of equestrian portraiture to both embrace and subsume the fetishization of state violence. New York and Times Square in particular sit at the crossroads of human movement on a global scale. To have the Rumors of War sculpture presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the language of domination.”