Kehinde Wiley, the American painter renowned for his vibrant portraits of contemporary Black subjects, is selling a series of limited-edition prints to benefit the West African artist residency he founded in 2019.
Black Rock Senegal, a multidisciplinary residency program in Dakar, Senegal, is partnering with the auction house Phillips to offer 30 prints of Wiley’s Portrait of Marie-Agnès Diene. The signed editions were released today (Dec. 5) on the Phillips Dropshop platform, priced at $15,000 each.
The e-commerce platform was launched earlier this year by the auction house and offers a “buy now” model for limited-edition drops coordinated with rising and established artists. Previous participants have included Australian artist CJ Hendry and the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“One of the central tenets of Dropshop is to amplify the voices of artists and causes to which they dedicate themselves,” said Christine Miele, Phillips’ retail sales director for e-commerce, in a statement. “Through this partnership, we aim to do just that, raising funds for a program that immeasurably contributes to the cultural landscape of our shared community.”
This won’t be the first time Miele has worked with Wiley and Black Rock Senegal—she came to Phillips from the Kehinde Wiley Shop, an initiative created by the artist that sells limited-edition apparel and merchandise to support the residency program.
What is Black Rock Senegal?
Wiley rose to prominence after his 2018 portrait of former president Barack Obama made headlines, and he has received widespread acclaim for both his distinctive portraiture style and references to Old Master paintings. The artist, who attended a residency program at New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem more than two decades ago, founded Black Rock Senegal in 2019 to support artistic creation outside the Western context. Now entering its fourth year, the program’s 2023 cohort was announced in July out of an applicant pool of more than 1,400 artists.
Residents are hosted in one- to three-month increments in a luxurious compound in Dakar, where they enjoy studio space, a spa, a gym and even a resident chef. “There’s a level of quality that I demand,” Wiley told Vogue last year. “I want to set the bar for the way that you think about an experience in West Africa.” The complex was designed by Senegalese architect Abib Djenne and is decorated with Wiley’s work.
Since its founding, Block Rock Senegal has partnered with Wiley to sell prints benefiting the program. Previous releases include the artist’s 2021 Dimietrus Study, the 2020 Sharrod Hosten Study III and his 2019 Head of a Young Girl Veiled. “The proceeds generated from the print editions are vital to the growth and development of our program and go directly toward supporting our artists in residence,” said Kéwé Lô, director of Black Rock Senegal, in a statement. This latest limited-run series will be notable in that it marks the artist’s first female portrait to be featured in a charitable print edition.