Mickalene Thomas

USA (1971). Lives and works in New York.


Serie Polaroid #2, 2012 – C-print 90,2 x 78,4 cm – 10,7 x 8,9 cm (each)

Serie Polaroid #3, 2012 – C-print 44,8 x 52,1 cm – 10,7 x 8,9 cm (each)

Serie Polaroid #8, 2012 – C-print 81,9 x 106,7 cm – 10,7 x 8,9 cm (each)

Mickalene Thomas is known for her elaborate paintings incrusted with imitation diamonds, varnish, and acrylic colors. Her portraits of African American women explore themes of celebrity and black female identity while idealizing notions of femininity and power. Thomas finds her inspiration in sources ranging from the nineteenth century Hudson River School to Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and Romare Bearden. From that starting point, she explores notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective,
blending in modern influences such as pop.

Three of her Polaroid photographic series have been selected for #1 Cartagena. She concentrates on female portraits in each of these, creating a collection of images of African American women in their homes (one of the series is focused on domestic furniture). The visual style is strident, sporting daring prints and bright colors. Many of her models are used repeatedly.

It could be said that the Polaroid series, are works in preparation for her large format paintings. However, the position of the models and the use of color betray a connection to Matisse’s famed odalisques. As the critic Elly Fishman stated: “Thomas’ image repetition shifts the viewer’s understanding of her subjects.While many women in Thomas’ photographs have the 1970s ‘power sister’ look, the recurrence of the subjects softens their potency.”

* Chicago Reader, 5 de abril de 2012,