Mickalene Thomas - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Phillips

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  • "How can I take the ingredients of who I am and put them into a painting? What does that look like? What does that feel like? "
    —Mickalene Thomas

    Mickalene Thomas’s I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good is a striking example of the artist’s multi-media approach that spans collage, photography, and painting. Created in 2006, this work is from the She Works Hard for the Money Pin-Up Series and draws upon contemporary notions of female sexuality, infused with Thomas’s iconic use of highly saturated color and inlaid rhinestones. Informed by influential pop culture figures in Jet magazine, actresses in Blaxploitation films and pin-up models from the 1960s and 70s, Thomas pays homage to the women who have long populated her visual imagery. 


    © COFFY, US poster, Pam Grier, 1973
    © COFFY, US poster, Pam Grier, 1973

    "I believe that the sitter has the power (or more power than I have) over what’s being presented. I’m not overly choreographing the women I work with; I’m really trying to capture a quality within them."
    —Mickalene Thomas

    The subject in I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good sits upright on a zebra-patterned rug in a revealing rhinestone-encrusted dress that matches the orange hue of her glam. She answers the viewers’ gaze with a sensual stare--strong yet alluring, exhibiting an unrelenting confidence and embrace of her sexuality. In her depiction of the female figure, Thomas challenges traditional notions of beauty and femininity, as well as the distinction between object and subject. 
    For Thomas, each piece begins with a photograph as reference. She stages elaborate installations in her Brooklyn studio to shoot sitters against backdrops of wood-paneled walls, vibrantly patterned textiles and furniture that evoke 1970s interiors—harkening back to a time when the second wave of feminism was on the rise and women were re-defining typical beauty standards. Translating these photographs across various mediums, Thomas crystallizes her portraits through paint and collage, creating formally complex images that radically fragment her subjects. 


    Mickalene Thomas, <em>I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good</em> from the <em>She Works Hard For the Money Pin-Up</em> series, 2006 (detail)
    Mickalene Thomas, I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good from the She Works Hard For the Money Pin-Up series, 2006 (detail)

    Thomas’s layered compositions have roots in Yoruban and Cubist art, but the artist also considers them a response to the contemporary world of collaged images and information. “Our world is constantly being covered or layered by some new form or idea, ideology or culture. As individuals we have to take parts from different elements to create our own world.” Thomas reveals, “I’m interested in a form of amalgamation, an overload of information.”I

    Immersing the viewer with its grand scale and three-dimensional quality, I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good subverts the conventional ideals of sexuality, femininity and the representation of women. The luxurious nostalgia of Thomas’s work seamlessly carves a place for the female figure to amplify her narrative within art history. 
    I. Mickalene Thomas quoted in, Paul Laster, “Mickalene Thomas: Fully Exposed,” FLATT, online

    • Provenance

      Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006

    • Artist Biography

      Mickalene Thomas

      American • 1971

      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.

      View More Works

Property from an Important West Coast Collection


I've Got it Bad and that Ain't Good from the She Works Hard For the Money Pin-Up series

signed, titled and dated ""I'VE GOT IT BAD AND THAT AIN'T GOOD," 2006 from the (She WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY PIN-UP SERIES) M. Thomas" on the reverse
rhinestones, acrylic and enamel on panel
72 x 60 in. (182.9 x 152.4 cm)
Executed in 2006.

Full Cataloguing

$180,000 - 220,000 

Sold for $491,400

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York

1 212 940 1250


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021