Danielle Mckinney

In pensive, cinematic portraits, painter Danielle Mckinney (b. 1981; Montgomery, AL) captures solitary female protagonists in moments of leisure and respite. Set in dream-like domestic interiors, Mckinney's figures sprawl across unmade beds, lounge in overstuffed armchairs, and splay on the floor in various states of undress. They smoke, read, and nap; immersed in their own worlds, ensconced in their own space, these women are consumed with rest, with pleasure, with leisure, with being. Hinting subtly at the busy routine of these figures' lives, Mckinney withholds their motivations, their thoughts, their comings and goings—in turn captivating viewers with narratives implied in elusive shadows and revealing details. 


Mckinney's practice is an ongoing exploration of portraiture, color, and composition informed by an expansive dialogue with art history. Her figures emerge from deep, dark backgrounds reminiscent of Zurbarán's haunting portraits of saints and martyrs. With gestural brushstrokes and flickers of brilliant pink and orange oil paint, Mckinney evokes the work of Matisse while the striking quality of light in her scenes—and its narrative implications—echo the paintings of Vermeer. Perhaps most notably, Mckinney draws on the intense, unsettling voyeurism of Hopper with her masterfully-crafted interiors, occasionally borrowing his compositions directly, yet filling them with her own figures, her own details, her own vision. In these paintings, Mckinney ultimately enchants viewers with her expert handling of paint, the subtle emotional pull of her figures, and her radical commitment to beauty. 


Mckinney's work is in numerous museum collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. Her work has been featured in a number ofgroup exhibitions, including Presence in the Pause: Interiority and its Radical Immanence curated by Rachel Adams at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE; When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa; IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY at The Contemporary Austin, TX; and Black Melancholia at the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Mckinney earned a BFA at Atlanta College of Arts in 2005 and an MFA at Parsons School of Design in 2013. The artist lives and works in Jersey City, NJ.