A spectacular image of sleep

Published:March 17, 2023DOI:
      The scale is stunning! The painting is 25 feet wide by 11 feet high (see Fig. 1). A young black muscular male is sleeping, on a wispy veil-like sheet, floating on and enveloped by a sea of flowers and ornamental white ferns. The figure in Sleep is lifelike in detail—you can see veins on the back of the hands, the fingernails, and the tendons on the dorsal aspects of the feet. The image evokes Caravaggio. The image is more than life-size—it is monumental. It also invokes a sense of cognitive dissonance. It is hypnotic; you cannot unsee it. You try to understand it.
      Fig 1
      Fig. 1On the Journal cover. Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008. Oil on canvas. 335.3 × 762 cm (132 × 300 in). © Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of the Rubell Museum, Miami.
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