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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

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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

The Wall Street Journal

September 27, 2012

 

One Artist's 'Origin' Story: Brooklyn-Based Mickalene Thomas Mounts Her First Stateside Solo Museum Exhibition
By: Kimberly Chou

 

On Tuesday afternoon on the fourth floor of the Brooklyn Museum, Mickalene Thomas was busily installing "Origin of the Universe," her first solo museum show in the U.S. A forceful portraitist of black women who often composes her pieces with paint, enamel and rhinestones, Ms. Thomas, who has lived and worked in Brooklyn for 17 years, conceded that she was "scared as hell." But only somewhat.

 

"Oh, it's great. It's fantastic," she said. "I don't know. I'm a little nervous about it."

 

She laughed a big, continuous laugh. "It's much easier to do something in California or somewhere else"—the exhibit originated in a smaller iteration at the Santa Monica Museum of Art—"but when you're doing it in your own back yard, it's like when you go back home to your parents' house, and your friends and cousins that you grew up with, you can't BS them, you know what I mean?"

 

Ms. Thomas is not known for BS. Leading a team of assistants in her studio, she works on several projects at a time, creating elaborate sets of decorated interiors where she photographs her models. From there, the photographs become collages, which in turn serve as the basis for her large-scale colorful paintings.

 

This summer, Ms. Thomas moved into a bigger studio in Clinton Hill, up the block from where she'd been for six years; before, she said, she had to do the photo shoots at night and on weekends, then wait for paintings to dry before moving them to make room for other work.

 

"Mickey has fashioned her studio as a very professional business, like an enterprise," said Ian L. Cofré, an independent curator who previously worked as Ms. Thomas's studio manager. "It's a company. She knows what she wants and what her goals are with each work and how to get there."

 

"Origin of the Universe"—the title is a play on Gustave Courbet's famously erotic work "The Origin of the World," which inspired two of the new paintings in this show—opens Friday and runs through Jan. 20. Initially, the idea was to mount more of a survey show, but she pushed to be able to exhibit all new work, including the large-scale, mixed-media portraits for which she is best known, as well as recent forays into landscapes and interiors. Most of the pieces were started in 2011 and completed in 2012. ("Four of them were finished last week," she said.)

 

For one thing, she feels "too young" for a survey: "I'm 40, but my career, I think, is just beginning. But also, I really think that a survey would not challenge the viewer and my own practice."

 

A native of Camden, N.J., Ms. Thomas began making art in the early '90s while a student in Portland, Wash. While there, she was deeply affected by a Portland Art Museum show of the pioneering black artist Carrie Mae Weems. She moved back east for art school, studying first at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, then at Yale for her MFA, where she eventually scrapped abstract work in favor of paintings of animals using glitter and rhinestones—a precursor to her portraiture, which she began to hone after her 2003 residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It's the portraiture, featuring costumed black women in a riotous mix of colors, patterns and textures, with rhinestones often filling space or edging a contour, that has since become her signature. Her most recent work, she said, draws from Chuck Close's large-scale portraits and David Hockney's landscapes.

 

"She makes a range of references in her work. [It] questions the traditional cannon of Western art history," said Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai, who organized this presentation of "Origin." "But I also appreciate how her work, with the rhinestones and the references to popular culture, appeals to a very broad audience. Someone who knows nothing about art can walk in and appreciate her work for the pure visual beauty and spectacle."

 

In past interviews, Ms. Thomas has said people respond first to the materials of the paintings—all those rhinestones—and sometimes view the paintings more as objects, "embellished" with the glitzy medium.

 

"The rhinestones are just as important an element in the painting as the paint that's used on them," she said. "How I approach these is all from formal aspects of painting. I felt there was only very few key people who would get that."

 

But that, she feels, has started to change, with her more deliberate uses of painterly materials and techniques—for this recent series of portraits, she returned to using oil paint—and by showing parts of her process. "Origin of the Universe" includes four installations that re-create the photography sets she uses in her studio, as well as a documentary she made about her mother (a frequent model for her work), and 50 of her collages hung salon-style. Last year she presented an all-collage show with the gallery that represents her, Lehmann Maupin.

 

"It was really formative and important for me and for my career for people to see that [show] because they don't realize what goes into the work," Ms. Thomas said. "Sometimes I think it's the responsibility of the artist to reveal a little more of themselves."

 

On Tuesday, having finished for the day at the museum, Ms. Thomas headed to the nearby Barclays Center, where she is completing a mural of Brooklyn landmarks. Back in Clinton Hill, she's also working on new paintings for her November exhibition at Lehmann Maupin. First, though, she needs to open this museum show.

 

"I want people to walk away thinking that this was a good show to have at the Brooklyn Museum, for many things—for the community, for the type of artist that I am and [for] sort of really embracing Brooklyn artists, to say that this is one of our own and we believe in what she does," Ms. Thomas said. "Or they walk through these doors and they feel the way I did when I saw Carrie Mae's work in Portland—and it does something to them."