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Mickalene Thomas | All About Love

The Broad’s debut of Mickalene Thomas: All About Love reflects some of the artist’s earliest inquiries into visual culture, sexuality, and memory, and move into the present. On view is the early photographic triptych, Lounging, Standing, Looking (2003), a piece which depicts the artist’s own mother, exploring kinship and care.
The Broad, Los Angeles
Mickalene Thomas
All About Love

Press Release

Debuting at The Broad with over 90 works made by the artist over the last 20 years, Mickalene Thomas: All About Love is the first major international tour of this pioneering artist’s work. The exhibition highlights how Mickalene Thomas has mastered and innovated within several disciplines, from mixed-media painting and collage to installation and photography. The exhibition shares its title and several of its themes with the pivotal text by feminist author bell hooks, in which love is an active process rooted in healing, carving a path away from domination and towards collective liberation. Through her queries into pop culture and mass media, Thomas offers a reverberating demand for Black women to be seen and understood, and for viewers to become what hooks calls “practitioners of love.”

Born in 1971 in Camden, New Jersey, Thomas completed her MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 2002 and a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2003. Soon after, she became well known for her large-scale acrylic paintings of Black women in states of leisure and repose using rhinestones, a central material in her practice that symbolizes the complexities of femininity. Depicting women with confident and assured expressions, the subjects of her works are often seen in domestic interiors from Black America, claiming the agency of womanhood while deconstructing the art historical canon. Similarly, Thomas’s photographs, collages, and figurative paintings often re-stage scenes from 19th-century French painters such as Henri Matisse and Édouard Manet, pushing back against the subjugation and oppressive narratives upheld by Western archives, cultural institutions, and representation systems.

The Broad’s debut of Mickalene Thomas: All About Love reflects some of the artist’s earliest inquiries into visual culture, sexuality, and memory, and move into the present. On view is the early photographic triptych, Lounging, Standing, Looking (2003), a piece which depicts the artist’s own mother, exploring kinship and care. These modes of intimate relations come to inform work such as Portrait of Maya No. 10 (2017) from the Broad collection. This acrylic and rhinestone work embodies Thomas’s signature ability to apply several layers of material and symbolic meaning into a single surface. At eight feet tall, the subject is empowered, sparkled, and poised, commanding her outward gaze. Unifying these larger-than-life subjects together in the museum’s galleries, the show envelops viewers into the bold and dynamic universe the artist has created, where steadfast love overcomes political strife.

The themes of the exhibition extend into a full slate of associated programming developed in collaboration with the artist, including a summer concert series featuring Flo Milli and a tribute to J Dilla, a comedy night under the stars co-curated and hosted by Chaunté Wayans, wellness and healing events with Tai Beauchamp and Angela Manuel Davis, and additional programs and workshops centering women and Black and queer communities. View all upcoming events.

Mickalene Thomas: All About Love is co-organized by the Hayward Gallery, London, and The Broad, Los Angeles, in partnership with the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

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Debuting at The Broad with over 90 works made by the artist over the last 20 years, Mickalene Thomas: All About Love is the first major international tour of this pioneering artist’s work. The exhibition highlights how Mickalene Thomas has mastered and innovated within several disciplines, from mixed-media painting and collage to installation and photography. The exhibition shares its title and several of its themes with the pivotal text by feminist author bell hooks, in which love is an active process rooted in healing, carving a path away from domination and towards collective liberation. Through her queries into pop culture and mass media, Thomas offers a reverberating demand for Black women to be seen and understood, and for viewers to become what hooks calls “practitioners of love.” Born in 1971 in Camden, New Jersey, Thomas completed her MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 2002 and a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2003. Soon after, she became well known for her large-scale acrylic paintings of Black women in states of leisure and repose using rhinestones, a central material in her practice that symbolizes the complexities of femininity. Depicting women with confident and assured expressions, the subjects of her works are often seen in domestic interiors from Black America, claiming the agency of womanhood while deconstructing the art historical canon. Similarly, Thomas’s photographs, collages, and figurative paintings often re-stage scenes from 19th-century French painters such as Henri Matisse and Édouard Manet, pushing back against the subjugation and oppressive narratives upheld by Western archives, cultural institutions, and representation systems. The Broad’s debut of Mickalene Thomas: All About Love reflects some of the artist’s earliest inquiries into visual culture, sexuality, and memory, and move into the present. On view is the early photographic triptych, Lounging, Standing, Looking (2003), a piece which depicts the artist’s own mother, exploring kinship and care. These modes of intimate relations come to inform work such as Portrait of Maya No. 10 (2017) from the Broad collection. This acrylic and rhinestone work embodies Thomas’s signature ability to apply several layers of material and symbolic meaning into a single surface. At eight feet tall, the subject is empowered, sparkled, and poised, commanding her outward gaze. Unifying these larger-than-life subjects together in the museum’s galleries, the show envelops viewers into the bold and dynamic universe the artist has created, where steadfast love overcomes political strife. The themes of the exhibition extend into a full slate of associated programming developed in collaboration with the artist, including a summer concert series featuring Flo Milli and a tribute to J Dilla, a comedy night under the stars co-curated and hosted by Chaunté Wayans, wellness and healing events with Tai Beauchamp and Angela Manuel Davis, and additional programs and workshops centering women and Black and queer communities. View all upcoming events. Mickalene Thomas: All About Love is co-organized by the Hayward Gallery, London, and The Broad, Los Angeles, in partnership with the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.
Artist Profile
Mickalene Thomas