“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed,” said 19th-century British artist William Morris, “art has remembered the people, because they created.” The Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley doesn’t just echo Morris’s aesthetic approach—especially those ornamental backdrops—he’s in sync philosophically, too. Wiley’s subjects tend to be history’s creators, from Barack Obama, whose portrait he painted in 2018, to the women of east London. The series he based on these female figures, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” sets a complicated past of blackness and gender within a decorative framework. —J.V.
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