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Kehinde Wiley to be honored at 2021 Art + Film Gala

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will honor contemporary artists Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley and filmmaker Steven Spielberg at its 2021 Art + Film Gala, the museum is expected to announce Wednesday.

As LACMA’s premier fundraiser, the 10th annual event on Nov. 6 will bring together art and fashion figures, civic leaders and celebrities. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s in-person gala was canceled and the museum did not honor any new artists or filmmakers during an intimate virtual gathering. The 2019 gala honoring assemblage artist Betye Saar and “Roma” writer-director Alfonso Cuarón raised more than $4.6 million for the museum.

Shuttered for more than a year during the pandemic, LACMA reopened to the public in April. Four LACMA buildings were demolished during the pandemic to make way for the new $750-million, Peter Zumthor-designed building, the David Geffen Galleries, which will house the museum’s permanent collection.

Born in L.A., the New York-based Wiley painted the official portrait of former President Barack Obama. And Sherald, who lives in the New York area, painted the official portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama. Both were unveiled in 2018, Wiley and Sherald were the first African American artists to be chosen by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for such commissions.

Wiley and Sherald’s Obama paintings will go on view at LACMA from Nov. 7 to Jan. 2 as part of a five-city tour organized by the National Portrait Gallery. A complementary exhibit, “Black American Portraits,” drawn from LACMA’s permanent collection, will be on view Nov. 7 through April 17.

Spielberg was a lead donor for the Obama portraits.

“Art and film are both irreplaceable experiences through which we can better understand ourselves and others, and we are excited to once again bring the worlds of art and film together at this event,” LACMA Director Michael Govan said in a statement.

LACMA trustee Eva Chow and actor Leonardo DiCaprio will once again co-chair the event.

Proceeds from the gala will support LACMA’s goal of making film more central to the museum’s curatorial programming; they also will fund its broader mission including exhibits and acquisitions.

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Brad Ogbonna

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