MICKALENE THOMAS "I HAVE BEEN GOOD TO ME", 2015
Mickalene Thomas (b.1971) is a renowned artist exploring the intersection of popular culture and art history, through a contemporary Black female gaze. She studied at the Pratt Institute, and earned her MFA from Yale. As an openly gay Black woman, sexuality and race are essential elements of Thomas' practice.
Thomas' primary subject is portraits of black women. Her works are instantly recognizable featuring bold textures, patterns and colors.
Thomas' subjects radiate beauty and confidence, further enhanced by the collage of colorful textures and patterns surrounding them. Their hair remains natural, and their bodies are often exposed. They lounge, or pose, as women in art history have done for centuries. Only this time, it's Black women being celebrated for their culture and beauty.
Thomas filters popular culture and art history into contemporary visions of Black women empowered in their beauty, race, gender, and sexuality. Elements of Blaxploitation, Pop Art, Cubism, Dadaism, and even Renaissance art appear in her work. Her subjects, or muses, emanate an air of ease in their skin. Their gaze is usually directed towards the viewer, challenging the white male gaze and defying racial stereotypes of subservience and objectification.
Often invoking the poses and compositions of classical art, Thomas subverts art history through reclaiming its subjects as Black women. Her images refuse the historical erasure of black women in art, especially that of Black women viewed as empowered subjects of beauty or glamour. By rebelling against the traditional oppressive narratives of art, Thomas' portraits have forged a new space of their own in the art world.
This colorful and multi-faceted work is a stunning example of Thomas' practice. Created in Thomas' signature mixed-media collage style, this work features a poised and beautiful Black woman serenely surrounded by various textures, colors, and objects.
The interior elements seem to hint at domesticated nature: leopard print pillows, crocodile upholstered chairs, a white cat statue, wall paper with floral motifs, and an open window with sunlight and greenery beyond it. Juxtaposing these are elements of pure domesticity: carpets, couches, and wall paper without obvious signs of nature. Thomas' work contains layers of meaning within her vivid and luminous works.
Mickalene Thomas has received numerous awards and worked in many creative channels besides visual art, including an HBO documentary album artwork for Solange Knowles. She has created portraits of many famous African-American women including Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Whitney Huston, and Michelle Obama.
Thomas' works can be found in numerous museum's permanent collections; including the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Guggenheim (NYC), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (NYC), and the Whitney (NYC) among many others.
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"I Have Been Good to Me"
Unique mixed media print including screenprint, monoprint, silica flocking, wood veneer and digital printing in colors, on museum board, with full margins.
Signed, dated and numbered in pencil
From an edition of 20
56.5"H 45"W (sheet)
62"H 50"W (framed)
Framed with UV plexi
Published by: Benefit Print Project, New York.
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