Back To Top

Artist

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

Store

Artist Bio

Mickalene Thomas

PRESS

Ocula

December 20, 2016

PRESS

Artomity

December 15, 2016

News

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

April 5 2016

News

Mickalene Thomas on Muses, Models, and Mentors Interview Magazine

March 10 2016

News

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

February 11 2016

News

Mickalene Thomas on Her Photographic Muses Vogue

February 6 2016

News

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

February 2 2016

News

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

January 29 2016

News

Tour Mickalene Thomas's Brooklyn Townhouse Vogue

January 6 2016

News

Panel Discussion including Mickalene Thomas Art Basel Miami Beach 2015

December 3 2015

News

Mickalene Thomas Receives 2015 United States Artist Fellowship Award

November 10 2015

News

Beautiful Photos Of Women Take On Stereotypes Through High Art Refinery29

November 4 2015

PRESS

The New York Times

July 18, 2014

PRESS

Time Out New York

July 7, 2014

PRESS

Interview Magazine

June 26, 2014

PRESS

Huffington Post

June 26, 2014

PRESS

New York Observer / Gallerist NY

June 20, 2014

PRESS

American Art

Spring 2014

PRESS

Vogue

February 17, 2014

PRESS

The New York Times

June 14, 2013

PRESS

Phaidon

June 13, 2013

PRESS

Whitewall

June 12, 2013

PRESS

Artspace

June 7, 2013

News

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

June 2013

PRESS

ARTnews

April 2013

PRESS

Opening Ceremony

March 20, 2013

PRESS

Artforum

February 14, 2013

News

ICA Boston Mickalene Thomas

December 12, 2012 - April 7, 2013

PRESS

ANP Quarterly

Vol 2 / No 7

PRESS

The Wall Street Journal

November 23, 2012

PRESS

The New Yorker

November 12, 2012

PRESS

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

November 7, 2012

PRESS

The New York Observer

November 5, 2012

PRESS

Artforum

November 2012

PRESS

Modern Painters

October 2012

News

Brooklyn Museum, NY Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe

28 September – 20 January 2012

PRESS

The New York Times

September 28, 2012

PRESS

The Wall Street Journal

September 27, 2012

PRESS

The Wall Street Journal

September 24, 2012

PRESS

The New York Times

September 21, 2012

PRESS

Time Out New York

September 13-19, 2012

PRESS

W Magazine

September 2012

PRESS

Vogue

September 2012

PRESS

New York Magazine

August 27, 2012

PRESS

Art Review

May 31, 2012

PRESS

Artinfo

May 15, 2012

PRESS

Huffington Post

April 25, 2012

PRESS

Los Angeles Times

April 21, 2012

PRESS

The New York Times

March 30, 2012

PRESS

Artforum

December 31, 2011

PRESS

Artforum

December 1, 2011

PRESS

Velvet Magazine

October 31, 2011

PRESS

The New York Times

October 20, 2011

PRESS

Loop 21

October 18, 2011

PRESS

The New Yorker

October 7, 2011

PRESS

The Village Voice

October 5, 2011

PRESS

Photograph Magazine

October 5, 2011

PRESS

Whitewall

September 29, 2011

PRESS

Artinfo

September 26, 2011

PRESS

Arude

September 13, 2011

PRESS

Modern Painters

August 31, 2011

PRESS

Paper

August 31, 2011

PRESS

Bomb

May 31, 2011

PRESS

Bomb Video Mickalene Thomas: Behind the Scenes

Summer 2011

PRESS

Life and Times

May 23, 2011

PRESS

Art in America

February 17, 2011

PRESS

Artnews

December 31, 2010

PRESS

NBC Washington

August 22, 2010

PRESS

A Sky Filled With Shooting Stars

July 29, 2010

PRESS

V Magazine In The Flesh

April 30, 2010

PRESS

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

April 26, 2010

PRESS

Weltkunst

January 31, 2010

PRESS

NY Arts

August 31, 2009

PRESS

Time Out New York

April 23, 2009

PRESS

Artforum

April 20, 2009

PRESS

The New York Times

April 12, 2009

PRESS

Nylon

March 31, 2009

PRESS

Art + Auction In the Studio

February 28, 2009

PRESS

Bomb Number 107 / Spring 2009

February 28, 2009

PRESS

Wynwood

November 30, 2008

PRESS

Wound Issue 4 / Autumn 2008

September 30, 2008

PRESS

Trace

March 31, 2008

PRESS

Whitewall

December 31, 2007

PRESS

Modern Painters

November 30, 2007

Modern Painters

October 2012

 

Mickalene Thomas

By: Chloe Wyma

 

Despite her glittering portraits of  unflappable, seductive black women-often decked out in passels of crystals and rhinestones-Thomas makes more than just eye candy. In her first major museum show, “Origin of the Universe,” at the Brooklyn Museum, Thomas takes on the trope of the female nude in art history, tackling race, gender, sexuality, and constructions of beauty. Meanwhile, her third show at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, which focuses on Thomas’s landscapes and interiors, opens on November 1. Chloe Wyma talks to the artist about her two shows, her family, and the power of the gaze in her work.


CW: The title of your exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, “Origin of the Universe,” is an allusion to Gustave Courbetls notorious nude.

 

MT: I was interested in Courbet’s Origin of the World as a conceptual idea related to the female body, and I used that as a central focus for the show. For me that painting is very controversial, and it was very controversial for its time. I wanted to reclaim that pose by using my own body as the subject. I felt a little exposed, because I’m revealing a part of my body that one will never see unless they get very close to me. Putting myself in that vulnerable position allowed me to understand the positions that I put my own models and sitters in. I used to use myself a lot in my earlier works, but those felt more narcissistic. In this work, it wasn’t necessarily important for the viewer to know that it was me, the artist.


CW: And you did a second version with your wife, Carmen McLeod.

 

MT: Yes. It was a sort of call and response, dealing with the nature of sexuality on a different level, romanticizing the nature of relationships and intimacy-and also having this connection with a black body in relation to a white body. Beauty is so much about a particular type of construct, and I wanted to have that dichotomy be a subject to talk about.


CW: Its an interesting coincidence that Jacques Lacan owned the original Origin of the World at one point, since Lacanian psychology is something you’re drawing on in your work.

 

MT: To see yourself, and for others to see you, is a form of validation. I’m interested in that very mysterious and mystical way we relate to each other in the world. I was in India many years ago and thinking about photography and photojournalism before there was digital photography. People would go to these countries and photograph kids; nobody ever went back and said to those they'd photographed, “Hey, here’s the image.” On my trip I had a digital camera, and to show people what they look like gives them great power. And so those philosophical notions of Lacan relating to the mirror are so deep, in the sense of “I see you, therefore you exist.”


CW: You’ue also talked before about the importance of Carrie Mae Weems's piece Mirror, Mirror (1987).

 

MT: What Weems did, depicting family and gender, those social roles, really hit home-the dynamics in these relationships, dealing with beauty and intimacy. The mirror is a powerful tool because it forces you to deal with yourself on a deeper level. Conceptually, paintings are like mirrors. They’re an expression from the artist: “This is how I view the world--I’m presenting it to you.”


CW: Your show at the Brooklyn Museum will also include your first film, Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman.

 

MT: It’s a documentary about my mother as a muse and how her beauty has transformed due to illness. The  film gives the viewer a slow, methodical way of looking at her beyond what you would see in a photograph or a painting. I hadn’t photographed my mother since 2010, and she’s always been someone that l use in my work. At my last show she said she was sad not being a part of the work; I wasn’t using her because she was sick. And I thought, why should I stop using her because she’s sick? She has an uncanny beauty that has come upon her due to an illness.


CW: You're expecting a baby soon. Has the experience affected your work at all?

 

MT: No, but what it has affected is my understanding and appreciation of time. I’m preconditioning my behavior. I can’t stay out late. I don’t drink as much anymore. It`s interesting how your brain just switches into “you need to be an adult.” And I hope the baby will teach me how to be a kid again.


CW: Can we talk about your show at Lehmann Maupin? Most of the work focuses on interiors and exteriors.

 

MT: The interiors are based on this book that I found at a Goodwill called The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement. I thought, These are like my own interior spaces. The works in the exhibition are a combination of images from that book and photographs. I was in Giverny last year for three months. While I was there, I had the opportunity to photograph inside Monet's house. A lot of the works at Lehmann Maupin will be a combination of those images.


CW: One ofyour new paintings, Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires, with its fragmented composition, represents a shift in your work.

 

MT: It’s so different from what I’ve done before, especially when it comes to the abstracted figures. It’s exciting that it doesn’t matter if the figures are blue or green or yellow or pink-they still convey my message.


CW: ls there anyone you dream of painting one day?

 

MT: That’s a good question. I would have loved to paint Eartha Kitt, but she’s no longer here. I’m so glad I had the chance to meet her. Some friends of mine took me to the Carlyle for my birthday to see her perform. She represented the beauty, charisma, and strength that I really like about women. She’d gone through so much in her life as a person, as a spokesperson, as an artist, as a musician, and she’s so universal and powerful. I would have loved to paint her.