Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe
Mickalene Thomas (born 1971) has won acclaim for her elaborate, colorful paintings of African-American women, often posed provocatively against rich, 1970s-themed backgrounds adorned with rhinestones, enamel and acrylics. Thomas draws from earlier traditions of portraiture to arrive at her contemporary sensibility. She engages with the tension between a personal investigation of eroticism, black femininity and beauty and a pop-cultural critique of the overt sexual imagery prevalent in the media--from Blaxploitation film heroines like Cleopatra Jones to the construction of middle-class, African-American taste in Ebony magazine. Her portraits of trans-generational female empowerment have been receiving attention far beyond the standard art-world venues and have been reproduced everywhere from The New Yorker to Bomb magazine. Thomas also reenvisions landscapes and interiors through playful and passionate recontextualizations of such artists as Romare Bearden, Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse and Balthus. Mickalene Thomas: The Origin of the Universe is the first monograph on the artist, and accompanies her first solo museum exhibition in the United States at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. It features a wide array of full-color reproductions of her work across media--much of it new and never before published--including photo collages and provocative landscapes, along with an interview with the artist and critical texts that elucidate her paintings’ investigations of femininity, sexuality and power, and provide extensive context for her oeuvre as a whole.