Windward Coast, 2009-2011
Piano keys, plaster bust, and glitter
Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
In Windward Coast, piano keys become the sea. The work evokes the Middle Passage, a defining experience that shaped the traumatic history of the Black Atlantic Diaspora. For Bailey, Windward Coast is about self-determination. The individual keys are the direct intermediary between the artist and instrument—the keys transmit the physical stroke of the artist to create music.
To make Windward Coast Bailey developed a relationship with a business near his home where old pianos are disassembled and their parts recycled. Bailey is mindful of the history of these pianos, imagining the people whose fingers touched their keys. Bailey's piano keys invoke memories of the music made decades ago by artists of past generations, as they take the shape of the surface of the sea.
Piano keys are essential to Bailey's artistic production, underlining the importance of music to Bailey's art. At the same time, their geometric forms add a modernist element, helping define his richly-nuanced, multi-layered, signature style.
Photo by Victoria Rowell
The New York Times describes artist Radcliffe Bailey's shimmering, shape-shifting works as being fueled by an exploration of "Black Atlantic culture, the vital, nurturing, agitated link between Africa and the Americas."
Born in 1968 in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Radcliffe Bailey moved to Atlanta when he was four years old. Growing up, his interest in art was piqued by visits to the High and the art classes he took at the Atlanta College of Art. He later earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991.
Bailey harmonizes an intuitive balance of world history and familial memory. Through exploration of the past, the present, and the unknown, Bailey layers meaning into his art by layering objects. Combining two and three dimensional forms, he uses various mediums and scale to create a
diverse and engaging collection of art that can be read together as pages of the same book.
Bailey's work is represented in leading museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco
Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas
City; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.