b. 1971, USA

Mickalene Thomas Artworks

Mickalene Thomas' art conveys a bold and contemporary sense of female power and sexuality packaged in a vibrant aesthetic. Her visual motifs and thematic explorations of race, gender, and sexuality travel across visual mediums: from photography to Rhinestone encrusted enamel and acrylic paintings, collage to prints, and video to installation.

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Polaroid Passion

Photography is an integral component of Thomas' artistic practice. Initially focusing on her mother as a subject in her Yale years, Thomas' sitters have included family, friends, lovers, and influential figures.

With the exception of a few intimate standalone series like 'Black and White Polaroid' (2012), the majority of Mickalene Thomas' photography consists of lively staged group and single portraits. Black women, vibrantly dressed or naked, gaze directly at the viewer in confident poses from pastiches of 1960s to 80s-style domestic interiors.

Paintings and Collage

Thomas builds her painted and collaged works from the vibrant and confident femininity of her photographs. Both formats render these subjects in a patchwork of styles. Fragments of photography, sometimes overpainted, intersect with areas of painting or printed material.

The artist often asserts her confident Black female characters into the annals of art history. Thomas' Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: les trois femmes noires (2010) riffs off Édouard Manet's iconic and once scandalous painting with three Black women looking at the viewer. Thomas' 2021 'Resist' series reimagines Pablo Picasso's sombre Guernica (1937) with imagery of the Black Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements.

Michelle Obama

Mickalene Thomas' prints on the one hand derive largely from her paintings and collages, however, prints like Michelle O (2008), now residing in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., are set apart. Referencing Andy Warhol's 'Jackie O' screenprints from the 1960s, Thomas' Michelle Obama homage presents a pop art-style, pale blue screenprint of America's first Black First Lady.

Film and Video

Thomas has also long worked with video and sound as a medium. Early examples from the mid-2000s such as Oh Mickey (2008) and the 'Ain't I a Woman' series (2009) brought her portrait subjects to life, singing or making poses for the camera, against a background of popular songs in screens framed like paintings.

This has matured into multi-channel works such as the intimate black-and-white Je t'aime (2014) and Je t'aime trois (2018), which feature clips of outdoors and interior scenes, influential Black figures, and the artist's mother, as well as footage from civil-rights era and contemporary Black Lives Matter protests.

Room Installations

Brining to life the vibrant staged interiors that are the setting of many of her artworks, Thomas creates immersive room-scale installations that recreate these environments within galleries. Presenting an aesthetic gleaned from 1960s—1980s decor, they often feature artworks, sound elements, and occasionally video.

For Art Basel in 2013 Thomas created Better Days (2013), an immersive environment within the Galerie at Volkshaus evoking the aesthetic of a 1970s house party. Complete with period decor and a cocktail bar, Thomas activated the space with nightly performances by guest DJs and musicians including musician Solange Knowles.

Public Commissions

Thomas has created murals for public spaces including at Brooklyn's Barclays Center (2012), Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach (2013), and the U.S. Embassy in Dakar (2016). In 2016 Thomas also produced a video work featuring influential Black female figures for an electronic billboard with Standard Vision in Los Angeles.

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Jet Blue #29 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing, mixed media
Mickalene Thomas Jet Blue #29, 2021 Rhinestones, fibreglass mesh, acrylic, chalk pastel, oil pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with maple wood frame
228.3 x 158.4 x 5.1 cm
LGDR Enquire
September 1977 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas September 1977, 2021 Rhinestones, glitter and acrylic paint on canvas mounted on wood panel with mahogany frame
279.4 x 233.68 cm
LGDR Enquire
Sugar Baby by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Sugar Baby, 2004 Acrylic and rhinestones on panel
121.9 x 91.4 cm
LGDR Enquire
Naomi Sims by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork mixed media
Mickalene Thomas Naomi Sims, 2016 silkscreen, 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 mixed media
Mickalene Thomas Marie with Four Legs, 2015 Rhinestones, glitter, acrylic and oil paint on canvas mounted on wood panel
96 x 84 x 2 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Clarivel with Blue Shoulder and Gold Glitter Pearls on Paper by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Clarivel with Blue Shoulder and Gold Glitter Pearls on Paper, 2016 Glitter and acrylic paint on collaged paper mounted on dibond
48 x 36 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled #11 on Paper by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Untitled #11 on Paper, 2016 Rhinestones, glitter, oil stick, and acrylic paint on paper mounted on dibond
48 x 36 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled #18 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Untitled #18, 2016 Rhinestones, glitter, acrylic, and oil paint on wood panel
96 x 72 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled #16 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Untitled #16, 2016 Rhinestones, glitter, acrylic, and oil paint on wood panel
96 x 72 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Qusuquzah Lounging with Pink + Black Flower by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Qusuquzah Lounging with Pink + Black Flower, 2016 Rhinestones, acrylic, and oil paint on wood panel
96 x 120 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
High Priestess #2 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas High Priestess #2, 2016 Rhinestones and acrylic paint on wood panel
60 x 48 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled #17 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Untitled #17, 2016 Rhinestones, glitter, acrylic, and oil paint on wood panel
60 x 48 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Clarivel with Black Blouse and White Ribbon by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Clarivel with Black Blouse and White Ribbon, 2016 Rhinestones and acrylic on wood panel
60 x 48 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Shug by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Shug, 2016 Silkscreen, ink, and acrylic on acrylic mirror mounted on wood panel
72 x 60 inches
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Shug Kisses Celie by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas Shug Kisses Celie, 2016 Silkscreen, ink, and acrylic on acrylic mirror mounted on wood panel
72 x 60 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Calder Series 1 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork photography
Mickalene Thomas Calder Series 1, 2013 Color photography
40 x 32 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery
Untitled (Cat Brooch) by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork sculpture
Mickalene Thomas Untitled (Cat Brooch), 2015 Aluminum with brass leaf
73 x 60.5 x 5 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery
Polaroid Series #9 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork photography
Mickalene Thomas Polaroid Series #9, 2012 Digital Polaroid Prints
3.5 x 4.2 inches
Sold
Kavi Gupta
Black and White Polaroid Series #3 by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork photography
Mickalene Thomas Black and White Polaroid Series #3, 2012 Digital Polaroid Prints
3.5 x 4.2 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery
Da ya think I'm sexy by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork photography
Mickalene Thomas Da ya think I'm sexy, 2009 Mounted c-print
76.2 x 61 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's
Liz and Chair with Zebra by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork print
Mickalene Thomas Liz and Chair with Zebra, 2013 C-print
121.9 x 121.9 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
I'm Feelin Good by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork painting
Mickalene Thomas I'm Feelin Good, 2014 Rhinestones, acrylic, oil, enamel, and glitter on wood panel
274.3 x 365.8 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Untitled (Earrings) by Mickalene Thomas contemporary artwork sculpture
Mickalene Thomas Untitled (Earrings), 2014 Bronze
0.25 x 3.25 x 1 inches
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery
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