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World-renowned artist Kehinde Wiley debuts massive sculpture to be installed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

RICHMOND, Va. — Artist Kehinde Wiley will unveil his first public sculpture in Times Square Friday before it moves to its permanent home in Richmond.

The massive piece Rumors of War is modeled after the equestrian monuments of Confederate leaders that line Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Sitting atop a massive horse in a striking pose, Wiley’s young, African-American subject is dressed in urban streetwear.

A world-renowned visual artist, Wiley is best known for his vibrant, modern portrayals of minority figures, painting to emulate classic portraiture of powerful white leaders. The sculpture intends to re-contextualize the Civil War monuments depicting Confederate leaders in Richmond., and is Wiley’s largest work to date and his first public art piece,

“The inspiration for Rumors of War is war—is an engagement with violence. Art and violence have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other. Rumors of War attempts to use the language of equestrian portraiture to both embrace and subsume the fetishization of state violence. New York and Times Square in particular sit at the crossroads of human movement on a global scale. To have the Rumors of War sculpture presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the language of domination,” Wiley said.

Wiley’s inspiration for the project began when he first saw the equestrian monument to Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart while visiting Richmond for the opening of his exhibit at the VMFA.

The statue will be permanently installed in the VMFA’s entrance on Arthur Ashe Boulevard, less than a mile from the monument it is modeled after.

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