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Mickalene Thomas

American  •  b. 1971

Biography

Glamour and feminism need not be foes, as evinced by the wonderful work of Mickalene Thomas. The artist examines these qualities through the lens of the African-American female experience. Whether with her rhinestone-inflected, '70s-glam-inspired portraits of black beauty and power or her photographic installations of her mother's living room, Thomas personalizes while aestheticizing a visual conversation about race. By tackling classical art historical themes, she writes African-American aesthetics into traditional conventions.

Blockbuster retrospectives at the Brooklyn Museum and ICA Boston thrust Thomas into contemporary art's mainstage. Her platform extends her creative pursuits into fashion, interiors and DJ'ing. Thomas' market has also grown at a steady pace with auction prices increasing each year.

Insights

  • Her first major retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum took on Gustave Courbet with its title, "Origin of the Universe," alluding to the nineteenth century realist's famed canvas of a woman's pubis. 

  • Inspired by photographer Carrie Mae Weems, Thomas switched mediums from painting to photography and even enrolled at Pratt Institute to pursue technical training. 

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