Kehinde Wiley Reimagines Classic Art

ABC's Mike Bickal speaks with renowned artist Kehinde Wiley about his unique interpretations of classic paintings that diversify and reimagine art history.
4:16 | 12/28/15

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Transcript for Kehinde Wiley Reimagines Classic Art
There's long been growing resentment among minority groups. What defines classic art has historically been devoid of diverse voices and expressions now one young artist is changing that one for shook at a time not just by redefining art. But my re imagining the great masters here's ABC's my vehicle. Artist came in they wiley has made a name for himself by putting his own spin on our history. For nearly fifteen years wiley is taking to streets all over the world to ask men and women of color the model for his striking portraits. While distinctly contemporary the works have historical heir to that. That's because while he draws inspiration from classic paintings closing is subject to often during the pre close to mimic paintings by the old masters. And in doing so he has carved out of place for community that has traditionally been ignored throughout our history a disparity Riley has been aware of since his youth. As he tell your mom brought you to finding whoever you saw the works canes from our panel comfortable what effect these paintings have. My mother sent me to a school that allowed me to see some of the best art institutions in Los Angeles. Amongst them were eighteenth and nineteenth century examples some of the great French and British fortress. Gilded frames powdered wigs tools and and and lap dogs all of the sort of strange. Code for class in a strange way what I did was I walked from one of the most underserved communities in California into one of the most missed splendid rooms. In Los Angeles I was here able to picture things that I wanted to see I was able to imagine what I would. And the only limitations within that field were my imagination. Despite having painted people of color almost exclusively for over a decade while he's training began like so many other aspiring artists. In our classes painting nude mostly white women but just when it. The challenges of moving from what I would assume it's mostly painting white when. In the artistic nude and transition almost 188 clothes. Black man you know it's arguable that I know how to paid white women better than I do Blackmon because so much of my educational history came from the tradition of having. Nude female models and live art classes. And to that degree I think that it's really fascinated to know that. There is very little in the way of of the rule book on how to. It the blues. In the crimson and the greens that go into shadows and highlights of black skin even if the paintings. Art. Nude portraits of white women in a strange since they are. And the strain since there indicting the ways in which we crude for masculinity and code for. For wiley who identifies as gay in the expiration of masculinity as it relates to race and class is very much at the center of his work. In 2012 he shifted its focus with subject that has always been central and painting but historically marginalized. Women. By and large women have been there for male consumption. And even when we change the narrative change the structure change the subject matter. The history has been presuppose in such a way. But even structurally the way you look at news is. Directed towards a male gaze as creative creatures we have to sort of know that happens we have to. Criticize it poke fun at it embrace it. So how does wiley C is owned work in relation to the paintings he saw as a child you know you are sort of recreating poses. Masters. Pending in essence what you end up with this is this type of parallel. A commentary. It's neither something completely ignored is could be is that the original object it's this third object that sits on its own plane. That at once critiques. And celebrates the history I want to be able to create paintings that are mysterious. And stark he but I it's also want to make paintings that are sincere and and able to change the world you you're not able to get all of that. And my job as an artist is to continue trying might pickle ABC news New York. Well there's no trained there is doing he's definitely doing while with that and props Mike pickle for during a really good job with that he's.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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