at home: Symposium | The Politics of the Portrait
Featuring artists, collectors, curators, and scholars, The Politics of the Portrait is a three-part online symposium that considers potential solutions and alternatives regarding the history, display, and making of portraits and the role of representation in today’s sociopolitical climate.
In this program, Titus Kaphar, Arthur Lewis, and Hau Nguyen discuss Kaphar’s practice and the importance of supporting emerging artists, artists of color, and local art communities.
About Titus Kaphar
Kaphar is an American artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of pictorial representation. Kaphar physically manipulates his canvases by cutting, shredding, twisting, breaking, and tearing his paintings and sculptures, reconfiguring them into works that reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history, often in an effort to consider overlooked subjects. By transforming these styles and mediums with formal innovations, he emphasizes the physicality and dimensionality of the canvas and the materials. His practice challenges art historical images and the narratives they normalize.
Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2006 and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards including a MacArthur Fellowship (2018), an Art for Justice Fund grant (2018), a Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant (2016), and a Creative Capital grant (2015). His work appears in the collections of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and several New York City museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Kaphar lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2015, Kaphar and Jason Price cofounded NXTHVN with, a 40,000-square-foot nonprofit arts incubator located in two former manufacturing plants in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven. NXTHVN offers fellowships, residencies, and other professional development opportunities to artists, curators, and students in the local community and beyond.
About Arthur Lewis and Hau Nguyen
Lewis and Nguyen have built an art collection celebrated for its focus on contemporary women artists and artists of color and were named in the top 200 art collectors by ArtNews in 2020. Over the last thirteen years, the couple have intentionally focused on supporting a wide range of black artists and developing their local art community in Los Angeles. As a result, the core of Lewis and Nguyen’s collection features both emerging and established artists including Genevieve Gaignard, Jennie C. Jones, Titus Kaphar, Kerry James Marshall, Ebony G. Patterson, and Amy Sherald.
Lewis and Nguyen are further renowned for their intentional approach to collecting, which extends beyond building the market value for artworks. Seeing the role of the collector as one of guidance and care, the couple are active in the artist community and enjoy personal relationships with many artists represented in their collection. Lewis is creative director of United Talent Agency’s fine arts group and the UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills, California. He is a member of the boards of the Hammer Museum and the Underground Museum in Los Angeles, as well as New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem. Nguyen is the owner and creative director of boutique hair salons.
In October 2020, Lewis and Nguyen lent Kaphar’s Enough About You (2016) to the Yale Center for British Art. This artwork was on view in the Center’s galleries for eight months in place of the eighteenth-century group portrait Elihu Yale with Members of his Family and an Enslaved Child. To learn more about why this change was made and a description of the ongoing research into this group portrait, visit New light on the group portrait of Elihu Yale, his family, and an enslaved child.