“I’ve always loved creating a narrative with my work, and as we all lived through the pandemic as it gained momentum, each painting I created began to tell a visual story, historical documents on canvases that chronicled the emotional, political, and social pulse of the world in real time as we all lived through it.” —Kadir Nelson As accomplished award-winning illustrator, painter, and author, Kadir Nelson is one of the most celebrated visual commentators of our time. His monumental, humanistic artworks appear on the covers and pages of popular magazines and books, and on posters, postage stamps and album covers, inspired by life’s large and small moments, by the complexities of American history, and by the African American experience, which he shares prominently and with dignity in his art. Always prolific, Nelson is ever observant of the world around him. The exceptional suite of paintings in In Our Lifetime, exhibited together for the first time, traces the artist’s experience of the global COVID-19 pandemic while bearing witness to world events as they unfolded. In painting and publishing his work, particularly at such an unprecedented time, Nelson gave voice to uncertainty, anger, and fear, but also to the joy of human existence and connectivity, which is deeply felt in his work. “We didn’t know what the outcome would be or how to through it. It was day by day,” said Nelson, whose art sustained him and became an important touchpoint for many. As a frequent cover artist for The New Yorker for over a decade, Nelson was selected by the magazine in 2020, to create arresting imagery to document the turbulent year as the world faced both a global pandemic and critical social and political movements. The resulting painting, Say Their Names, was an unflinching commemorative illustration of George Floyd and historical victims of racial violence and discrimination. Honoring grassroots activism and the Black Lives Matter movement, Nelson created American Uprising, a modern interpretation of Gerome Delacroix’s masterpiece, Liberty Leading the People, for the cover of Rolling Stone. Nelson’s In Our Lifetime paintings capture such wide-ranging themes as childhood and the hope for a positive future, the need for interpersonal connectivity, the contributions of trailblazers, the importance of raising one’s voice, and the racial injustices that continue to plague society. Drawing inspiration from his artistic antecedents including Michelangelo, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Klimt, Egon Schiele, Henry Osawa Tanner, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Ernie Barnes, Thomas Blackshear, and Norman Rockwell, he is a creator of contemporary classics that portray the American scene with empathy, warmth, and authenticity.