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b. 1971, USA

Mickalene Thomas Biography

Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, Camden, New Jersey) is known for her elaborate paintings adorned with rhinestones, enamel and colorful acrylics. Thomas introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty. Her work stems from her long study of art history and the classical genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life.

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Inspired by various sources that range from the 19th century Hudson River School to Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse and Romare Bearden, she continues to explore notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with the more recent influences of popular culture and Pop Art.

Mickalene Thomas earned her BFA in painting at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn in 2000 and a MFA at the Yale University School of Art in 2002. In 2000-2003, the artist participated in a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and in 2011, a residency at the Versailles Foundation Munn Artists Program, Giverny, France.

Thomas has been included in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including Something You Can Feel, La Conservera Contemporary Art Centre in Ceuti, Spain (2009); Americans Now, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. (2010); Mama Bush: One of a Kind Two, the Hara Museum in Tokyo, Japan (2011); 30 Americans, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. (2011); Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe, Santa Monica Museum of Art (2012); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012-2013).

Thomas’s work is part of dozens of significant public collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Studio Museum of Harlem as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Yale University Art Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan, among others. She has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012), Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010), Joan Mitchell Grant and Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award (both 2009), and Rema Hort Mann Grant (2007). The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Mickalene Thomas Featured Artworks

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Sugar Baby by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasSugar Baby, 2004Acrylic and rhinestones on panel
121.9 x 91.4 cm
Lévy Gorvy Contact Gallery
Naomi Sims by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasNaomi Sims, 2016silkscreen, ink, and acrylic on acrylic mirror mounted on wood panel
72 x 134 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Marie with Four Legs by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasMarie with Four Legs, 2015Rhinestones, glitter, acrylic and oil paint on canvas mounted on wood panel
96 x 84 x 2 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Calder Series 1 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasCalder Series 1, 2013Color photography
40 x 32 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery
Da ya think I'm sexy by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasDa ya think I'm sexy, 2009Mounted c-print
76.2 x 61 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's
I'm Feelin Good by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasI'm Feelin Good, 2014Rhinestones, acrylic, oil, enamel, and glitter on wood panel
274.3 x 365.8 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Clarivel #4 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasClarivel #4, 2016Rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel
84 x 84 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Madame Mama Bush by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork
Mickalene ThomasMadame Mama Bush, 2012Photograph
Variable dimensions
Not for sale
Duddell's

Mickalene Thomas Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Mickalene Thomas, the desire of the other at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong
Closed
18 November 2016–7 January 2017 Mickalene Thomas the desire of the other Lehmann MaupinHong Kong

Mickalene Thomas Represented By

Kavi Gupta contemporary art gallery in Washington Blvd, Chicago, USA Kavi Gupta Chicago
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 536 West 22nd Street, New York, USA Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, London, Seoul

Mickalene Thomas In Ocula Magazine

Portraitist Amy Sherald Obliterates Auction Record Ocula News Portraitist Amy Sherald Obliterates Auction Record New York, 9 December 2020

Works by Black artists outstripped estimates several times over at Phillips' New York auction last night.

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Paris Gallery Weekend: Exhibitions to See Ocula Feature Paris Gallery Weekend: Exhibitions to See By Tessa Moldan, Paris

Ocula presents a selection of exhibitions to catch during the 7th edition of Paris Gallery Weekend.

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Mickalene Thomas at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong Ocula Insight Mickalene Thomas at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong By Diana d'Arenberg, Hong Kong

The '70s are a part of my work not necessarily only because of nostalgia, but because of a recontextualising process. I'm reinventing those experiences that I have no memory of.

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Rachel Lehmann Ocula Conversation Rachel Lehmann By Anna Dickie, Hong Kong

Rachel Lehmann is not only one half of the gallery powerhouse that is Lehmann Maupin, but she is also an international citizen of the world. Lehmann was born in Asmara, Ethiopia, and studied at the University of Fribourg in France. She worked at the legendary Sonnabend Gallery in New York, and was the proprietor of two contemporary galleries in...

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Mickalene Thomas In Related Press

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Seven Artists on the Warhol Influence Related Press Seven Artists on the Warhol Influence 1 November 2018, The New York Times

Three decades after Andy Warhol's death, he remains one of America's most provocative artists. His influence on popular culture is so pervasive that each emerging art movement after him has had to grapple with Warhol's focus on surface perfections and his singular celebrity. Despite their complicated feelings, many contemporary artists say they...

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Wexner Center art exhibition to empower women, challenge art history norms Related Press Wexner Center art exhibition to empower women, challenge art history norms 10 September 2018, The Lantern

Femininity, race, sexuality, art history, identity and power. These are the themes explored in New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas' new exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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Beyond the fairs: London's must-see exhibitions featuring black artists Related Press Beyond the fairs: London's must-see exhibitions featuring black artists 7 October 2016, culture type

London is the place to be this week with the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair and Frieze London underway. The fourth edition of 1:54 is open Oct. 6-9 at Somerset House. According to the fair, 40 exhibitors are presenting more than 130 African and African diasporan artists, alongside a program of lectures, panel discussions, film screenings...

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Mickalene Thomas - 'Do I Look Like A Lady?' Related Press Mickalene Thomas - 'Do I Look Like A Lady?' 13 September 2016, Whitewall Magazine

Last November, Mickalene Thomas was named a 2015 USA Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow, one of 37 artists across nine disciplines to receive a $50,000 unrestricted award to expand and facilitate their practice. Thomas joined a list and network of lauded names that include visual artists like Theaster Gates and Mark Bradford, but also...

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