Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley Collaborated With American Express to Design the Company’s New Platinum Cards

The credit card company also donated $1 million to the Studio Museum in Harlem’s residency program, which both artists participated in.

American Express's new Platinum card, with designs by Kehinde Wiley and Julie Mehretu. Courtesy of American Express.

Platinum cards just got a lot more colorful.

This week, American Express released new, artist-designed editions of its signature membership card decorated by Kehinde Wiley and Julie Mehretu. 

In his version, Wiley’s trademark botanicals creep across the front of the card, partially obscuring AmEx’s gladiator logo. You’ll recognize the flora from many of the artist’s paintings, including his presidential portrait of Barack Obama. 

“This was an exciting project and powerful experience for me to translate my artistic approach into one of the reimagined designs for the Platinum Card,” the artist said last December, when the project was announced. “I am proud to help Platinum Card Members enjoy a bit of artistic inspiration every day.”

Mehretu’s card, meanwhile, features the colorful geometric marks that can be found on her paintings, particularly those inspired by urban landscapes and Modernist abstraction.

“For me, making art comes from expanding the imagination and possibility, the incredible feeling of inventiveness and vitality that one can experience with a painting,” Mehretu said in a statement of her own. “Art is all around us and I am delighted that a part of my work can now be found on the smallest of canvases in Platinum Card Members’ wallets.”

Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley attend as American Express unveils New Art x Platinum Designs on December 01, 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express.

Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley in Miami Beach, Florida in December 2021. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express.

American Express’s collaboration with the artists came just as the company donated $1 million to the Studio Museum in Harlem’s long-running Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program last November. Both Mehretu and Wiley were participants in AIR, the former in 2000–01 and the latter the year after that.

“There is great potential in this collaboration with American Express,” said Thelma Golden, the museum’s director and chief Curator, at the time of the announcement. “American Express doesn’t just bring funding, it shines a light on the important work being done at our institution.” 

American Express’s donation to the museum was given in the name of Kenneth and Kathryn Chenault, the company’s CEO from 2001 to 2018 and his wife, both longtime patrons of the Studio Museum.

This is the second time Wiley has lent his artwork to American Express. Last year, he and architect Rem Koolhaas were designed custom versions of the company’s $5,000-a-year Centurion card.

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