Kevin Beasley – Chair of the Ministers of Defense

Kevin Beasley (American, born 1985), Chair of the Ministers of Defense, 2016
Polyurethane resin, wood, acoustic foam, jeans, trousers, du-rags, altered t-shirts, altered hoodies, guinea fowl feathers, wrought iron window gate, vintage Beni Ourain Moroccan rug, kaftans, housedresses, Maasai war shields, Zulu war shields, and vintage peacock rattan chair
On loan from The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection and The Rennie Collection

The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame is thrilled to announce the exhibition of Kevin Beasley’s Chair of the Ministers of Defense (2016) on loan from The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection and The Rennie Collection.

This immersive installation explores ideas of power and race in America through theatrics reminiscent of the Roman Baroque. Renowned conceptual artist Kevin Beasley calls into focus Black Liberation movements and ongoing imbalances of power experienced by Black Americans and marginalized men and women of color. The work maintains a formality often employed in religious imagery in artworks intended to convey the divine right of leaders.

An empty, rattan “peacock” chair is at the center; above it hangs a house window clad in protective iron bars, evoking a stained-glass window. Flanking the chair are archetypical Maasai and Zulu warrior shields, icons of African might. Surrounding these objects are vaguely figurative, resin-infused sculptures made from t-shirts, housedresses, and du-rags—all items associated with contemporary urban culture. Bathed in the dramatic light of the theater, The Chair of the Ministers of Defense is an open stage in which to consider the circumstances and conventions used by those in control and those who challenge their authority.

Kevin Beasley (American, b. 1985)

Based in New York City, Kevin Beasley has emerged as among the most insightful and distinguished American artists of his generation. Through sculpture, installations, and performance art, he has captivated audiences by exploring challenging topics that address history, social injustice, power dynamics, and, ultimately, the dignity of Black men and women in America. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1985, Beasley attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (BFA, 2007) and Yale University School of Art (MFA, 2012). He captured critical attention at the 2014 Whitney Biennial and presented a solo exhibition in 2018. He has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum, Harlem, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Beasley’s work is included in many of the most important public and private collections across the United States and England, including The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection and The Rennie Collection.

This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Pamela J. Joyner and Fred J. Giuffrida (ND ’73) and the Humana Foundation Endowment for American Art.

February 4, 2022

Art and History