MICKALENE THOMAS "WHEN ENDS MEET", 2007
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 elaborate and intricate portraits of black women. Her subjects, or muses, are realized in a style that draws upon a range of aesthetics ranging from Pop Art, Blaxploitation, Cubism, and even Renaissance art.
Thomas subverts both art history and contemporary visual culture through her images of Black women as their independence and beauty is expressed on their terms. Furthermore her subjects' gaze is usually directed towards the viewer, challenging the white male gaze and defying both subservience and objectification.
"When Ends Meet" is an elaborately bedazzled (!!!) screenprint portrait of Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American female Secretary of State. Rice held this position from 2005-2009 under George W. Bush's Republican administration. Rice was no stranger to the White House, having been the National Security Advisory during 2001-2005. Needless to say Rice was one of the most powerful women in American politics for almost a decade, as well as constantly being in the media's spotlight during this tumultuous era.
Thomas immortalized Rice in this portrait during the period that Barak Obama was vying for Presidency and trying to defeat the Republicans. Thomas depicts Rice as a focused and determined thinker. Rice's sparkling-eyed intellectual intensity is accentuated by the subtle, hard gleam of the rhinestones that were meticulously hand-applied onto this work.
This combination of screenprint and rhinestones was also used for a portrait of Oprah Winfrey. The two independent artworks commemorate the adversity both women overcame to achieve success and recognition in fields dominated by white men.
While Mickalene Thomas has experimented with different types of surface embellishment in both her prints and paintings, this work is exceptional for the volume, precision and sparkle of the rhinestone surface.
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; and on May 11, 2021 Thomas' work achieved a new auction record at Christie's reaching over one million dollars.
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"When Ends Meet"
Screenprint with hand-applied rhinestones on 4-ply board
Signed and numbered by the artist.
From an edition of 40 (plus 3 practice proofs)
31.8"H 27.9"W (sheet)
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