Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Mikalene Thomas & Rivian, Brooklyn Museum, Oct. 2012
Mikalene Thomas is one of the artists that I have been teaching since I discovered her a few years ago when she was relatively unknown. Her work spoke to me immediately and she has not only influenced my own work but my students as well. So, when we were in New York in Oct. I was thrilled to see that she was having her first solo museum show @ The Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition is called "Origin of the Universe" after a painting by the 19th Century French Realist painter Gustave Courbet.  As you will see below, her paintings exude opulence and Female beauty as well as dignity! All of her work is embellished with rhinestones giving the work a "bling" which I just love. Thomas' work involves much more than luxuriousness, it is obvious that she has an understanding of Art History and is influenced by many of the Masters along with Courbet such as Manet, Matisse and Bearden. "As a black woman who loves women, Ms. Thomas is in a double bind, and she makes the
most of this in order to transcend it. Through the scale and material capaciousness of painting, she celebrates, decorates and really venerates the black female body by making it and its lavish surroundings bracingly tangible. She doesn’t so much depict a universal humanity as practically force it into the viewer’s place, where it implicates, illuminates and bedazzles." Roberta Smith
By the way, I agree with Roberta Smith who wrote in her excellent New York Times review of the Thomas show that "Her big portraits, especially, would have enlivened the predictable Warhol show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

Sooo, I'm walking around the Brooklyn Museum looking at the gorgeous paintings and all of a sudden I notice a Woman that I think is Mikalene Thomas, (because I have seen photos of her on line). So, I get my nerve up and walk over and ask her if she is in fact the Artist. She was and she was so nice and friendly.  (I sort of felt like a "groupie"). I asked her if my Husband could take a photo and as you can see above , she said "of course"!
I know that you will enjoy the paintings below by the Artist Mikalene Thomas.

Le Dejueuner Sur L'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noir, 2010 rhinestones, acrylic, enamel on wood panel 
Detail of above
une très belle négresse #2, 2012.
 Rhinestones, acrylic paint, and oil enamel on wood panel
Monet's Salle a Manger, Jaune, 2012
inspired by the artist's residency in 2011 @ Giverny, Monet's Gardens in France
Sandra, (Mikalene's Mother)



Anonymous said...

Great post Rivian,Thanks!

Leslie Klurfeld said...

Ms. Thomas work reflects the African American Woman. Her work is very vibrant and colorful. There is a beautiful way that she makes her woman in her works of art beautiful. I like the use of her colors and sparkles make her work stand out. Thanks, Leslie

Rivian said...

Thank you so much for your comment Leslie!

Judith said...

"Liked your posting of artist in NY Micheline? But I mostly really liked her Monet painting, his room. I like doorways: the angles of the doorjambs, the vista through the doorway, other rooms in shadow and mystery. So liked that the best."
Judith Wesling

Pamela said...

I like her art work more and more. The more pieces I see the more I like it. I’m glad you did the closeups, because so much is lost of the wonderful bling. I love her bringing in of wallpaper, fabric etc. into the pieces and the strong strong women. Your comments and incorporating the reviewer made very good reading. Pamela

rivian said...

Thank you so much Judith & Pam!