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Gallery Exhibitions

Museum Exhibitions & Projects

Museum Exhibition

L'Ecole des Beaux Art...
Mickalene Thomas: Femme au divan II

July 5 – August 31, 2014

museum exhibition

George Eastman House
Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman

June 20 – October 19, 2014

Artist Project

Mickalene Thomas
Decópolis: The Talent of Others

February 6 - 24, 2013
The Proposition, New York

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Artist Bio

Mickalene Thomas

PRESS

Ocula

December 20, 2016

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Artomity

December 15, 2016

News

What Happens When Artists Take Over an Upper East Side Mansion W Magazine

April 5 2016

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Mickalene Thomas on Muses, Models, and Mentors Interview Magazine

March 10 2016

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‘Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs’ and ‘Tête-à-Tête’What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week New York Times

February 11 2016

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Mickalene Thomas on Her Photographic Muses Vogue

February 6 2016

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Kindred spirits: Mickalene Thomas' collaborative photography at Aperture Wallpaper* Magazine

February 2 2016

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In Mickalene Thomas’s awe-inspiring portraits, a meaningful reflection of black women in art New York Times

January 29 2016

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Tour Mickalene Thomas's Brooklyn Townhouse Vogue

January 6 2016

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Panel Discussion including Mickalene Thomas Art Basel Miami Beach 2015

December 3 2015

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Mickalene Thomas Receives 2015 United States Artist Fellowship Award

November 10 2015

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Beautiful Photos Of Women Take On Stereotypes Through High Art Refinery29

November 4 2015

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The New York Times

July 18, 2014

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Time Out New York

July 7, 2014

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Interview Magazine

June 26, 2014

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Huffington Post

June 26, 2014

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New York Observer / Gallerist NY

June 20, 2014

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American Art

Spring 2014

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Vogue

February 17, 2014

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The New York Times

June 14, 2013

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Phaidon

June 13, 2013

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Whitewall

June 12, 2013

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Artspace

June 7, 2013

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Wallpaper* Brooklyn queen of bling Mickalene Thomas bedazzles with her rhinestone-studded canvases

June 2013

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ARTnews

April 2013

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Opening Ceremony

March 20, 2013

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Artforum

February 14, 2013

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ICA Boston Mickalene Thomas

December 12, 2012 - April 7, 2013

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ANP Quarterly

Vol 2 / No 7

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The Wall Street Journal

November 23, 2012

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The New Yorker

November 12, 2012

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Financial Times Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe, Brooklyn Museum, New York

November 7, 2012

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The New York Observer

November 5, 2012

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Artforum

November 2012

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Modern Painters

October 2012

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Brooklyn Museum, NY Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe

28 September – 20 January 2012

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The New York Times

September 28, 2012

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The Wall Street Journal

September 27, 2012

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The Wall Street Journal

September 24, 2012

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The New York Times

September 21, 2012

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Time Out New York

September 13-19, 2012

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W Magazine

September 2012

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Vogue

September 2012

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New York Magazine

August 27, 2012

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Art Review

May 31, 2012

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Artinfo

May 15, 2012

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Huffington Post

April 25, 2012

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Los Angeles Times

April 21, 2012

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The New York Times

March 30, 2012

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Artforum

December 31, 2011

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Artforum

December 1, 2011

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Velvet Magazine

October 31, 2011

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The New York Times

October 20, 2011

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Loop 21

October 18, 2011

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The New Yorker

October 7, 2011

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The Village Voice

October 5, 2011

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Photograph Magazine

October 5, 2011

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Whitewall

September 29, 2011

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Artinfo

September 26, 2011

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Arude

September 13, 2011

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Modern Painters

August 31, 2011

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Paper

August 31, 2011

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Bomb

May 31, 2011

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Bomb Video Mickalene Thomas: Behind the Scenes

Summer 2011

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Life and Times

May 23, 2011

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Art in America

February 17, 2011

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Artnews

December 31, 2010

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NBC Washington

August 22, 2010

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A Sky Filled With Shooting Stars

July 29, 2010

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V Magazine In The Flesh

April 30, 2010

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New York Observer A Window on Art: Mickalene Thomas' Shiny Sex-Appeal Paintings

April 26, 2010

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Weltkunst

January 31, 2010

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NY Arts

August 31, 2009

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Time Out New York

April 23, 2009

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Artforum

April 20, 2009

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The New York Times

April 12, 2009

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Nylon

March 31, 2009

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Art + Auction In the Studio

February 28, 2009

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Bomb Number 107 / Spring 2009

February 28, 2009

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Wynwood

November 30, 2008

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Wound Issue 4 / Autumn 2008

September 30, 2008

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Trace

March 31, 2008

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Whitewall

December 31, 2007

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Modern Painters

November 30, 2007

Beautiful Photos Of Women Take On Stereotypes Through High Art

Refinery29


By Meredith Clark

 

Mickalene Thomas doesn’t limit herself to just one medium when she confronts stereotypes of Black women and the cultural expectations imposed on them. But for Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs, her new book of portraits, Thomas used photography to play up the glamour and power of her subjects. The photos Thomas shot are beautiful, but they also have the slightly alien, uncanny feel of high-art photography.

 

The book is the first to gather together work that represents her different approaches to photography, including portraits, collages, and Polaroids, among others. Thomas spoke with Refinery29 through email to explain her process, her inspiration, and why the female gaze is so important to her. The book is being published by Aperture and will be released in November.

 

How’d you start on this project? Did it start with a photograph or a particular woman?


"The book sort of stemmed from the development of my practice as a whole; I first started delving into photography in the early 2000s as an arts student, and started photographing my mother, who was my very first muse and model. Then I went on to photograph my friends and acquaintances, who possess the same kind of charisma and directness as my mother.

 

"These photographs, while they are regarded as standalone works, often act as blueprints in my practice — the same images permeate my collages as well as my paintings. So I thought it made sense to share portraits of my muses, women who inspire me and my practice with their palpable confidence, strength, and vulnerability.”

 

How did you shoot and style the women? Talk a bit about process.


“The photo shoots are always collaborative. The models have just as much power as I do as a photographer. I work to create a space that allows the models to own the moment, and bring aspects of her true self, her own particular beauty, and her own sexual appeal. By incorporating elements of fashion and artifice, I’m further exploring ideas of beauty and representation. Some of the materials that I use, such as wigs, textiles, and rhinestones, aim to reflect fashion’s methods of constructing image and identity. I use them exuberantly, not only as embellishments but as a way to validate my subject. And, hopefully, that discourages the viewers to reduce my muses to a single persona.”

 

Most (or all) the women are staring straight into the camera, with looks that seem to range from lust to annoyance. What did their gazes mean to you?


“The gaze in my work is a female gaze from my perspective as a Black woman. All of the women in my work have a profound sense of inner confidence, and recognize themselves as the visible subject. Their directness is filled with agency and self-knowledge. They have all the power and control to demand the viewer to meet them in their own space, rather than being exploited or scrutinized. I consider the exchange of gazes as a metaphor for an honest conversation, rather than it being an exchange of sexual appeal or lust.”

 

Recently, the news has been full of too many stories in which the bodies of Black women are only there when they’re the subjects of violence or abuse. Did current events or our political climate figure into the work for you?


“Absolutely — I am constantly contemplating or challenging various stereotypes around Black women. It’s crucial for me to flip these types of perceptions by making images of women who are full of energy and confident to declare their space, claiming, ‘I’m here; I exist; see me.’”

 

How does sex and sexuality play into the images for you?


“While I always want to bring forward my own sexuality and its relationship to the women that I’m working with, I’m more invested in the subtleties in the signifiers with which my muses are working. It’s okay if the viewer doesn’t understand the relationship I have with my muses. I’m queer, but it’s not always necessary to read my work as 'Oh, Mickalene’s a queer woman.’”

 

A lot of the titles draw from a particular, perhaps outdated vocabulary for women of color — “Negress,” and so on. What’s behind that choice?

 

“I choose to occupy these loaded words in my titles, because I want to challenge the reductive quality in such clichés. I want to ascribe new image associations with such words, and use them to celebrate the diversity and agency of Black women instead of degrading them. By doing so, I am continuing to explore various layers of presentation and perception.”