MICKALENE THOMAS "BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL" 2017
Mickalene Thomas (b.1971) is an American artist exploring the intersection of popular culture and art history, through a contemporary Black female gaze. As an openly gay Black woman, sexuality and race are essential themes in Thomas' practice.
Thomas frequently creates portraits of black women. Her subjects, or muses, emanate an air of confidence or nonchalance and are often surrounded by abstract or patterned elements from an array of sources and eras. Elements of Blaxploitation, Pop Art, Cubism, Dadaism, and even Renaissance art appear in her work.
Thomas subverts both art history and contemporary visual culture through her images of Black women. Their hair often 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. Furthermore, her subjects' gaze is usually directed towards the viewer, challenging the white male gaze and defying racial stereotypes of both subservience and objectification.
This sensual and uplifting print epitomizes Thomas' style and the importance of collage in her practice. While the artist often portrays women from her family or social circle, the anonymous woman here is a reappropriated image from a 1970s pin-up called Jet: Beauties of the Month. (An offshoot of Jet Magazine, the calendar was advertised as the first "black is beautiful" publication of its kind)
Thomas' works can be found in numerous 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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"Untitled" (Black is Beautiful)
Signed and numbered by the artist
From an edition of 100
14"H 11"W (work)
Published by Nazraeli Press, Netherlands
Note: a copy of Mickalene Thomas' 2018 book, "Black is Beautiful" is included with the print.
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