Grace Lynne Haynes

Stylish, candy-hued portraits that celebrate the many incarnations of Black womanhood.

Grace Lynne Haynes leans against a white storage container with two paintings on paper behind her
artist holding up a small square of pink paper in front of a colourful painting
close-up of the artist's hand as she draws a preliminary sketch
6 images

Grace Lynne Haynes was born in California in 1986, and now lives and works in New Jersey, USA.

Publications

Her artworks graced the covers of iconic publication The New Yorker on two occasions in 2020, one of which marked the hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Did you know?

Haynes finds inspiration people watching in New York City, as well as from the designs of fashion designers like Pier Paolo Piccoli - who made history in 2020 by featuring more than 30 models of colour in Valentino's haute couture show.

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Practice overview

Haynes’ illustrative paintings and collages portray African-American women in their day-to-day lives. The portraits are full of pastel block colours and soft, enticing textures which are set against the opaque black forms of female figures. Haynes is influenced by modern and contemporary portraiture, from the photography of Carrie Mae Weems to the quintessential modernism of Henri Matisse, and the Dada-esque works of Wangechi Mutu. She also draws inspiration from nature and city life, as well as fashion magazines, Nina Simone, and traditional fabrics she has collected from Senegal and South Africa. In 2020, her portrait of the iconic American activist Sojourner Truth adorned the front cover of the The New Yorker magazine, highlighting the fact that women of colour had to wait another 45 years to gain the right to vote. By combining the personal and political, Haynes deconstructs colour as material and symbol alike.

Haynes is driven by a desire for nuanced representation, keen to depict Black women as strong and powerful, but also feminine and serene. In Anticipation (2019), for example, a figure sits at a table, her stance is strong and assured. The woman wears a fluffy sherbet-coloured top, and two hummingbirds fly near a plant - a common motif throughout Haynes’ oeuvre representing her grandmother. In contrast to the clean lines of the figure, the eye is collaged from a magazine, adding a new texture to the work and returning the gaze of the viewer - both literally and metaphorically.

Through intense use of colour, Haynes conveys her essential message: Black is beautiful. As the artist explains, in Western society “light typically represents the inherently good and pure, while the dark is sinister and evil.” However, Haynes' work reverses this narrative, presenting dark feminine figures as chic and calm, with the light colours around them only serving to heighten their beauty. Excavating the intersections of culture, race and femininity, Haynes’ empowering work eloquently challenges stereotypes and questions the very nature of colour itself.

“I strive to show a safe haven for Blackness, and a purity untainted by the world.”Grace Lynne Haynes