MICKALENE THOMAS "MICHELLE O", 2008
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. References to Blaxploitation, Pop Art, Cubism, Dadaism, and even Renaissance art appear in her work.
"Michelle O" is a striking screenprint of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Thomas was commissioned by the New York City Board of Education and created the work to commemorate Barrack Obama becoming the first African-American President. In 2008 many artists focused on creating images of Barrack Obama, while Thomas chose the new First Lady Michelle as her subject.
The portrait is a nod to Andy Warhol's iconic pop-art portrait of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis (aka Jackie O). Thomas drew inspiration for the pale blue background from one of Michelle Obama's dresses (and perhaps also as a subtle nod to Democratic blue). This image became one of the first and most popular portraits of Michelle Obama, and was quickly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.
This iconic portrait of Michelle Obama exemplifies Black Excellence and commemorates a landmark era in American history.
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.
Demand for Thomas continues to rise; on May 11, 2021 Thomas' work achieved a new auction record at Christie's of $1.8 million.
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Additional images available by request.
Signed, dated, and numbered by the artist.
From an edition of 40 (plus 4 project proofs)
18"H 13.5"W (image)
25"H 19.5"W (sheet)
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