Lot 402
  • 402

Kerry James Marshall

80,000 - 120,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Kerry James Marshall
  • Study for 'Slow Dance'
  • signed and dated '92
  • ink, gouache and graphite on paper
  • 16 1/4 by 13 1/8 in. 41.3 by 33.4 cm.


Koplin Gallery, Santa Monica
Acquired from the above by the present owner in July 1992

Catalogue Note

Kerry James Marshall’s Study for ‘Slow Dance’ grants a rare view into Marshall’s creative process, exposing the methods by which the artist develops scenes of black domestic life, one of the primary themes running through his work. Study for ‘Slow Dance’ fixes its gaze on a couple, ensconced in washes of grey ink and wrapped in each other’s arms. Marshall places objects throughout the room—a table in the lower right and a console in the background—but gives little contextual information regarding the subject’s location, time period or identities beyond musical notations and lyrics which float through the air. Marshall meticulously delineates the figures and their skin tones, using crosshatching to form a sense of dimensionality and difference in the couple that defies what can be conventionally achieved with the medium. Though one of the figures stares at the viewer, their identities are unknown; the subjects in Study for ‘Slow Dance’ could be any black couple anywhere. Articulating the philosophy for the series of  romantic pictures to which the present work belongs, Marshall explains, “what I am doing is establishing a presence, a black presence that isn’t traumatically conditioned by its relationship to a practice or a structure called racism” (The artist in conversation with Charles Gaines in “Interview,” in Kerry James Marshall, London 2017, p. 32). Marshall insists on the virtue of quotidian black love and interiority, again elevating these scenes through art, and in his view, immortalizing them.