Comparing and Contrasting Kehindle Wiley's portrait of rap artist Ice-T and Ingres portrait of Napoleion what are their similarities and differences? Ice T: LINK Ingres: LINK

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The power that is exuded in both portraits is easily identifiable.  Both portraits show subjects that hold power.  This is represented by their facial expressions, serious and driven to command respect.  This is also evident in the grip of the scepters in each.  I think that the obvious difference is the subject matter and what each represents from a social point of view.  Ice- T and his image is contrasted sharply with Napoleon’s.  Ice- T lacks the laurels that Napoleon wears, ad rather sticks to his black baseball hat.  The royal apparel is substituted for a cut- off T- shirt and black high tops.  Napoleon’s sash on his right hand is replaced with Ice- T’s bracelet of bling. Yet, what Wiley might be asking out of comparing both portraits is to wonder if there is any real difference between the two men.  Both covet power and represent it in their endeavors.  Ice- T speaks about as much as conquest in his lyrics as Napoleon did.  Both live in a world where respect represented everything.  In Ice- T’s world to not have reputation means bad things and Napoleon operated in much the same way.  Both men exude masculinity and the idea that they are masters of their domains.  In this comparison, Wiley is suggesting that what it means to be male in the African- American world is not entirely different than what traditional conceptions of masculine power have represented.