Kehinde Wiley will receive the US State Department Medal of Arts, in honor of his “substantive commitment to the U.S. State Department's cultural diplomacy outreach through the visual arts," the artist's gallery, Los Angeles's Roberts & Tilton, announced.
Known primarily for his large scale paintings of young African Americans, depicted in the style of European royal portraits, the Los Angeles–born artist truly embodies the international spirit of the award, splitting his time between Beijing, Dakar, and New York (see "Kehinde Wiley on Art, the Art World and Being Stylish"). Secretary of State John Kerry will present the medal to Wiley on January 21.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems as the inaugural Medal of Arts recipients in 2013. The biannual award was introduced on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Art in Embassies (AIE), founded by president John F. Kennedy in 1963 at the suggestion of New York's Museum of Modern Art.