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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

      Influenced by Lacanian psychology as much as by the glam aesthetics of 1970s Blaxploitation films, artist Mickalene Thomas subverts conventional canonical formats to unravel notions of race, gender, and sexuality. Thomas’s complex works incorporate a wide range of media including rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel to create richly layered collage-like compositions that explore the inner natures of her sitters against the contradictions and misconceptions of identity. She produces portraits of African American women using vocabularies of the art historical canon and contemporary celebrity photography to render her subjects as powerful agents of their identities. Often depicting her sitters, whom the artist frequently refers to as “muses,” in the poses of the odalisques of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Édouard Manet, Thomas subverts traditional forms of representation and presents a complex and empathetic vision of the myriad experiences of Black woman in contemporary America. Her sitters return the viewer’s gaze, supercharging their potent presences.

      Thomas came to making art under precipitous circumstances; inspired by a retrospective of the work of Carrie Mae Weems while she was studying law in Portland, Oregon, Thomas has since devoted herself to exploring identity in visual terms. Her work incorporates a huge variety of influences, from Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse to Weems and Kehinde Wiley, and has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Brooklyn Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

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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
[email protected]


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021