Kerry James Marshall's Puzzle Pictures
The Holbein is a memento mori, and Marshall must be warning about imported standards of beauty ("good hair"). The yellow-haired woman, outlined in glitter, is Sleeping Beauty of the 1959 Disney film. The spiral curves defining the Disney heroine's hair are nearly identical.
School of Beauty wasn't Marshall's first exploration of anamorphosis. In 2009 he produced two murals for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Visible Means of Support depicted Mount Vernon and Monticello, with anamorphic images of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and literal "hidden figures" of their slaves.
"The logic of mirrors, reflections, and optical deceptions is at the heart of Marshall’s practice," wrote Tatiana Istomina. "His work points toward the major paradox of vision: while we may choose to see or not to see others, we remain somewhat obscure to ourselves and need a counter-presence to throw back at us our more or less distorted reflection. To depict the black figure, Marshall employs and inverts traditions, stereotypes, and expectations established by white culture. The image he constructs becomes another mirror, in which black and white Americans may face themselves and each other."