A Buyer's Guide To Kehinde Wiley

Two young men sit in red chairs, wearing shorts and t-shirts. The man on the right has his arm around the other; the man on the left poses with three fingers held on each knee and his arms slightly outward. Small red birds and orange leaves drawn in a graphic style populate the background.Image © Kehinde Wiley Studio / Dogon Couple © Kehinde Wiley 2008
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A modern master, presidential painter and art history disruptor, Kehinde Wiley is a fascinating figure. As a renowned contemporary artist, his extraordinary portraits have garnered global recognition and acclaim. Although a painter by trade, the Kehinde Wiley market offers options to buyers interested in prints and editions too. As we explore his vibrant market, we take a look at the significance of Wiley's art and delve into its investment potential, offering tips and tricks for authentication and acquisition.

President Barack Obama dressed in a navy blue suit and white shirt, sitting on a wooden chair with his hands in his lap. Lush green leaves and colourful flora populate the background.Forty-fourth president, 2009–2017 © Kehinde Wiley 2018

Who is Kehinde Wiley?

Born in 1977 in South Central Los Angeles, California, Wiley's passion for art emerged at an early age. Noting his artistic inclination, Wiley’s mother enrolled him in art classes at the age of 11, sparking the start of his impressive art education. Out of high school, Wiley completed studies at the San Francisco Art Institute and then achieved a Master's degree in Fine Art from Yale University. This set him in good stead to launch a career as an artist in New York City; recognising his unique talent and vision, the Studio Museum in Harlem offered Wiley a prestigious artist residency.

Wiley's artistic style is characterised by a fusion of classical portraiture and contemporary urban aesthetics. He draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including art history, hip-hop culture, and the people he encounters on the streets of urban centres. His captivating portraits feature everyday individuals street cast by Wiley himself; he then draws on classical works to help determine the pose, adornments and stature of his sitters. Blending traditional portraiture with vibrant colour schemes, Wiley also crafts ornate and vibrant backgrounds. This juxtaposition challenges traditional notions of power, representation, and identity.

Why is Kehinde Wiley’s art important?

It is this reinterpretation of historical masterpieces that defines Wiley’s artistic approach and sets it apart. By replacing the original subjects with contemporary figures, often young black men and women, he disrupts the Eurocentric art canon and invites a dialogue between the past and the present. Through his art, Wiley aims to address the historical lack of diversity within Western art history, giving space and status to those who have traditionally been excluded from positions of power.

Kehinde Wiley's contributions to the art world have earned him widespread acclaim and recognition. In 2018, he achieved an extraordinary milestone when his portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama became part of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery's collection. This achievement solidified Wiley's position as a trailblazer in contemporary portraiture and propelled him into the global spotlight. Wiley's ability to infuse historical references with contemporary relevance has established him as a visionary artist. Through the powerful narratives embedded within his bold portraits, he challenges conventions and sparks conversations on race, identity, and representation.

Why Invest in Kehinde Wiley?

Investing in Wiley's art offers a unique opportunity to acquire pieces that not only possess aesthetic beauty but also hold considerable investment potential. As the artist has expanded his practice to include limited editions, print collectors may want to consider adding a Wiley artwork to their collection for several reasons.

Rising Market Demand

Wiley's art has experienced a surge in popularity and demand over the years, with auction prices fetching well above their estimates. One example is Ferdinand-Philippe-Louis-Henri, Duc d'Orléans (2014), which sold at Phillips London in April 2022, realising £289,800 (fees included) against a £120,000 high estimate. Major exhibitions in the past few years have turned collectors onto the significance of Wiley's artistic contributions. Since his appearance on the secondary market in the early 2000s, the market demand for his works continues to grow, which will inevitably drive the value of his pieces in the future. Currently, Wiley’s overall market in 2023 is at its peak.

Artistic Significance

Wiley's ability to blend art historical references with contemporary narratives and aesthetics has solidified his position as a groundbreaking artist. His exploration of identity, representation, and cultural diversity resonates deeply with viewers, making his artworks not only visually captivating but also intellectually engaging. Investing in Wiley's art allows collectors to engage in a broader conversation about social issues and cultural evolution.

Established Reputation

Wiley's impressive body of work and numerous accolades have established him as a highly regarded artist in the art world. His artworks have been exhibited in prestigious galleries, museums, and institutions globally, and his status as the joint-first African-American presidential painter gives him a special place in history. One major travelling exhibition was Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic which opened at The Brooklyn Museum in New York in January 2017 and then travelled to various institutions within the United States. Proving the impact that celebratory exhibitions have on an artist's market, after this date, Wiley’s market continued to prosper.

Limited Editions

Many of Wiley's prints and editions are released in fairly limited quantities, making them highly sought-after by collectors. For example, Passing/Posing: Paintings and Faux Chapel portfolio (2004) is comprised of 18 prints, with each individual work produced in limited quantities. Furthermore, these prints are rare in the secondary market. Limited availability adds exclusivity and rarity to the artworks, potentially increasing their desirability and value over time.

Profile view of Kehinde Wiley at his artist residence in Dakar, Senegal. He wears a yellow patterned blazer and looks up to the sky with his eyes closed; behind him, an infinity pool merges into a panorama of the ocean.Image © Departures / Kehinde Wiley at Black Rock Sengal © Frank Frances

Cultural and Historical Significance

Wiley's majestic portraits of young black men and women are a way of reimagining art history and challenging the traditional narratives that have often excluded diverse voices. Investing in Wiley’s work furthers his artistic project that seeks to diversify traditional art forms and generate more visibility for black artists. A portion of the proceeds from Wiley’s limited edition designs go directly to supporting his multidisciplinary artist-in-residence program in Dakar, Sénégal, a program that empowers artists whose work engages with African influences and art forms.

By investing in Wiley's art, you not only acquire visually captivating pieces but also contribute to the preservation and appreciation of his evolving artistic legacy. The combination of rising market demand, artistic significance, established reputation, limited editions, and cultural resonance makes Wiley's prints and editions a compelling addition to any art investment portfolio.

Tips for Building a Kehinde Wiley Collection

Building a remarkable collection of Wiley's prints and editions requires careful curation and informed decision-making. Knowing where, who and what you need to start will set you up for success with your portfolio management and acquisition process.

Research and Familiarise Yourself

You’ll be better placed to start collecting Wiley's artworks if you’re familiar with his unique style, themes and artistic journey. Exploring his portfolio, exhibitions, and publications will give you a deeper appreciation of his work and help you identify the specific printed editions that resonate with you.

Seek Expert Advice

Engage with art advisors, curators, and knowledgeable professionals who can provide insights into Kehinde Wiley's market, artistic significance, and investment potential. Their expertise can help you navigate the print market and identify emerging trends.

Attend Exhibitions and Auctions

Stay connected by attending exhibitions, art fairs, and auctions featuring Wiley's works. Because Wiley is actively producing work, collecting his art offers a unique opportunity to go and see exhibits as he evolves. For example, he is currently exhibiting at the de Young Museum in San Francisco which will run until 15 October 2023. These events offer opportunities to experience Wiley's artwork firsthand, network with fellow collectors, and stay updated on market trends.

Utilise a Portfolio Management Tool

Once you own multiple prints, you’ll need to master the art of portfolio management to get the most out of your investments. MyArtBroker's MyPortfolio tool is an invaluable resource for art collectors, offering a comprehensive portfolio management platform designed to streamline and organise your art collection. MyPortfolio also connects investors to the only dedicated print market index in the world, providing real-time data on demand, supply, and price trends. With MyPortfolio, you can buy, sell, and track the value of your Wiley prints while staying informed about market fluctuations and making data-driven decisions.

Diversify Your Collection

If you’re focusing on Wiley's art, consider collecting works from different series or chapters in his career. You could also diversify your collection by exploring works by other artists who explore similar themes or artistic styles. This approach broadens your collection's scope and potential, allowing you to discover new talents while building a comprehensive and balanced portfolio.

A young man looks directly at the viewer; he wears a lime green hoodie and has his hands in his pockets. The brown wallpaper behind him is adorned with an intricate, regal pattern.Image © Kehinde Wiley Studio / Passing / Posing #12 © Kehinde Wiley 2002

How to Determine the Value of Kehinde Wiley Prints & Editions

Kehinde Wiley works across several mediums, with his printed editions often echoing the images and sitters from his oil paintings. Determining the value of Wiley's prints and editions involves a combination of factors, including the artwork's rarity, edition size, condition, provenance, and market demand. At present, Wiley prints range in value between the high hundreds and reach tens of thousands. Wiley’s highest-selling print is Kid Ike (2006) an artist proof which sold for an impressive £15,456 (fees included) against a modest high estimate of £3,000 at Phillips New York in March 2022.

Limited edition prints tend to hold higher value due to their scarcity. Generally, smaller edition sizes command higher prices as they are more exclusive. Additionally, consider if the artwork is from a special or unique edition within the artist's body of work, as this can significantly impact its desirability and value. For instance, in 2021, Wiley created an edition of 30 works, Dimietrus Study, in support of Black Rock Senegal.

The condition of the print is crucial in determining its value. Look for prints that have been well-preserved, and free from damage, discolouration, or fading. Provenance is also key. Authenticity can only be guaranteed by obtaining proper documentation, such as a certificate of authenticity or provenance from a reputable source.

Market demand and trends will also impact the value of a print. Exhibitions, auction results and gallery sales can all affect the value of an artist’s market, so it’s a good idea to monitor these movements and gauge the level of interest for similar works. MyArtBroker's dedicated print market index is an invaluable tool for this, providing real-time data on market activity and auction sales.

A young man poses wearing a pale pink durag, a dark purple t-shirt and a pink hoodie. His jewellery is a silver chain with a scorpion charm and a simple silver bangle, as well as stud earrings. The background behind him is blue and floral, with continuous branches.Image © Kehinde Wiley Studio / Tomb Of Pope Alexander VII Study I © Kehinde Wiley 2008

What are Kehinde Wiley's Most Popular Prints?

Kehinde Wiley has produced a vast body of work, captivating audiences worldwide with his powerful and visually striking portraits. Within his extensive portfolio of prints and editions, several pieces have gained significant popularity and recognition. Here are three of Wiley's most sought-after prints:

A printed portrait of a young black man in a vibrant red hooded sweatshirt, looking up with his side profile. Blue foliage backdrop adds depth.Image © Sotheby's from The Lapis Press / Sophie Arnould Study II © Kehinde Wiley 2016
1.

Sophie Arnould Study II (2016)

Released as two limited editions of 30 prints each, Sophie Arnould Study II (2016) is a hand-embellished silver ink print on Epson Hot Press Bright paper. Drawing inspiration from Wiley’s oil on paper paintings, the editions adopt Wiley’s signature painting style for the medium of pigmented ink prints. Currently, The Lapis Press, a California-based independent publishing house that often collaborates with Sotheby’s as a selling platform, values prints from this edition at $15,000 (USD).

Head and shoulders of a young man with his face turned away from the camera, wearing a t-shirt and hoodie. Blue and pink flowers run through the background and into the foreground below the subject’s neck.Image © Kehinde Wiley Shop / Dimietrus Study © Kehinde Wiley 2021
2.

Dimietrus Study (2021)

One of Wiley’s more recent works, Dimietrus Study (2021) is a limited edition of 30 originally created in support of the Black Rock artist-in-residence programme. Featuring a characteristic Wiley portrait of a young Black New Yorker, the print takes its backdrop of pink and blue flowers from a design originally created in 2008. On the significance of the image, Wiley explained: “This portrait continues a theme that exists within the selection of prints I have made for Black Rock Senegal. Each addresses the complicated intersection between the masculine and the feminine, the historic and the present. Much like the Black Rock Senegal program and the artists we welcome each year, these works draw inspiration from a beautiful and terrible past to offer a new optimism for how we can reclaim tradition to reimagine our shared future.”

Two black women seated, one facing the viewer, the other looking at a scroll held by the woman on the right. They embrace with the woman on the right's arm around the other's shoulder. They wear blue dresses, seated against a vibrant orange backdrop with red floral wallpaper.Image © The Lapis Press / THE SISTERS ZÉNAÏDE AND CHARLOTTE BONAPARTE (THE WORLD STAGE: HAITI) © Kehinde Wiley 2014
3.

The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte from The World Stage: Haiti (2014)

Released again as an edition of 30, The Sisters (2014) print was released from his series that focused on Haiti. Proceeds from the initial sale went to Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only film school. An allusion to the Jacques-Louis David portrait of Napoleon’s nieces, the print captures Wiley’s approach to reimagining historical works and disrupting conventional notions of representation and power.

These prints represent a fraction of Wiley's impressive oeuvre, each encapsulating his overarching themes of identity, representation, and cultural empowerment. Collecting these coveted artworks allows one to engage with Wiley's artistic vision and contribute to a broader conversation on art, history, and societal change.

Where Can I Buy a Kehinde Wiley Print in 2023?

If you're interested in investing in a Kehinde Wiley print in 2023, there are several avenues to consider.

Direct from Kehinde Wiley's Website/Studio

Wiley occasionally releases prints on his website, offering collectors the chance to buy his work directly. This ensures that you are obtaining the artwork from a reliable and trusted source, as well as building a relationship with the artist himself. Keep an eye on Wiley's official website for new releases and updates on available prints.

Galleries

Many reputable art galleries represent Wiley and offer his prints for sale, such as Sean Kelly in the United States and the Stephen Friedman Gallery in the United Kingdom. Visiting galleries specialising in contemporary art or those that specifically work with Wiley's artwork can provide an opportunity to view prints in person, engage with gallery representatives, and make a purchase. Reach out to galleries that exhibit Wiley's art or browse their websites to explore available prints.

Auction Houses

Auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Phillips often feature Wiley prints in their contemporary art sales. Participating in auctions can be an exciting way to acquire a print, as it allows for competitive bidding and potential opportunities to acquire artwork at competitive prices. Stay informed about upcoming auctions and carefully review auction catalogues to identify any Wiley prints on offer.

Online Art Platforms

Online platforms dedicated to art sales and collecting provide an accessible way to browse and purchase prints. MyArtBroker can connect you with a selection of Wiley's prints, accompanied by detailed information, images, and accurate valuations based on our state-of-the-art print market index.

Each buying strategy offers its own benefits and considerations, whether it's the direct connection with the artist's studio, the expertise and curation of galleries, the excitement of auctions, or the convenience of online platforms. Every print you buy may require a different process, so it’s a good idea to remain open to different avenues of acquisition.

Two young men dressed in vests and jeans stand next to each other, their bodies angled sideways and looking down at the camera. They hold a branch of leaves together; behind them is a decadent bouquet and roses wrapping around stone arches in the distance.Image © Kehinde Wiley Studio / Charles I and Henrietta Maria © Kehinde Wiley 2006

Why Use MyArtBroker to Find Your Kehinde Wiley Print?

If you're interested in investing in prints and editions, MyArtBroker is the ideal place to start. MyArtBroker has a proven track record of connecting collectors and investors with the right artworks at a fair price.

A Dedicated Broker

MyArtBroker assigns a dedicated broker to each client, who provides personalised support throughout the entire buying and selling process. Your broker will be an expert in contemporary art, specifically in the prints and edition market. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about Kehinde Wiley and his work, helping you make informed decisions about your investment.

Our Network

MyArtBroker has a vast private network of collectors that we work with. This is done by giving you access to our Trading Floor, which delivers accurate data on the activity of buyers and sellers in our prints marketplace. Live demand and supply are posted directly to the platform, meaning you’ll be first in the know if a Wiley print becomes available.

Our private network of print and edition collectors also means we can get exclusive information about your wanted print. We combine our network data with information from our industry-leading tool, MyPortfolio. This is a print market index powered by a repeat sales regression technology, allowing investors to track demand and supply in real time. Our index processes international art auction results as they come in, and also analyses thousands of public and private market histories. With MyArtBroker you can be sure that you’ll get high-quality advice, a fair price, and a sound investment.

A woman posed facing away from the viewer and body angled sideways, with her left arm held at an angle and her right arm on her lap. She wears a white off-the-shoulder gown with a thick leather belt around the waist.Image © Kehinde Wiley Studio / Mrs. Siddons © Kehinde Wiley 2012

Collecting Kehinde Wiley with MyArtBroker

Both as an investment and as a cultural artefact, Kehinde Wiley's art holds immense value. Investing in his work connects collectors to one of the most celebrated portrait artists of our time, and as an asset, Wiley’s strong reputation and success are likely to add value over time.

For those seeking to collect Wiley prints, MyArtBroker can serve as a trusted partner. We offer a comprehensive platform that combines cutting-edge technology with personalised guidance. By leveraging MyArtBroker's tools, including our dedicated broker service, Trading Floor, and MyPortfolio, you can navigate the art market with confidence and build a remarkable collection of Wiley prints.