Kehinde Wiley Unveils Black Public Monument in Times Square

The monument, entitled "Rumors of War," was created in response to Richmond's Confederate monuments

PICTURED: Kehinde Wiley

ACCLAIMED ARTIST Kehinde Wiley has unveiled a monument in Time Square, which depicts  a young black man in urban regalia sitting astride a galloping horse.

The monument, which was unveiled on Friday (September 27), stands at 27 feet high and 16 feet wide and is entitled Rumours of War.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Wiley, described his latest work as a call to arms for inclusivity and said he hopes young people would see it and “see a sense of radical possibility—this, too, is America.”

“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,” Wiley said in a statement. 

Rumors of War attempts to use the language of equestrian portraiture to both embrace and subsume the fetishisation 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.”

In an interview with The New York Times, the 42-year-old artist said the inspiration for the sculpture came from the opening of his exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic in June 2016.

He was struck by a statue of General J.E.B. Stuart and its evocation of Lost Cause ideology, which holds that the Confederate states were the noble targets of Northern aggression.

“I’m a black man walking those streets,” he said at the unveiling on Friday. “I’m looking up at those things that give me a sense of dread and fear.”

“Today,” he said, “we say yes to something that looks like us. We say yes to inclusivity. We say yes to broader notions of what it means to be an American.”

Rumors of War will display in Times Square until December 1 and will make its permanent home at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond.

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