Mickalene Thomas begins with constructing installations, that are very much like full stage sets, in her studio where her models are styled and pose. Then Thomas photographs them, creates a collage, and reworks the collage into acrylic on panel compositions to which she adds rhinestones.
This collage, made a year prior to the painting of the same name, includes images of paintings by Monet and helps explain the title of the final painting. Mickalene Thomas recognizes the history of modernism as an influence on her even as she abstracts the Monet references into blocks of color in the painting.
"I started thinking about domesticity a lot and how the interior space really affects who we are and how it also defines who we are based on the materials we surround ourselves with."
– Mickalene Thomas
"When I think of beauty being dark, you think of people, and women, so to speak, around the world, who are constantly augmenting and adjusting themselves for an ideal that does not exist."
– Mickalene Thomas
The pose of Mickalene Thomas’s figure in Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet references the common image of the odalisque throughout art history. Odalisque translates to female slave or a woman slave in a harem. Male artists have depicted women as passive, sexualized objects for centuries. Thomas turns that history on its head by depicting women as empowered and in control.
Images: Tamika sur une chaise longue avec Monet, 2012, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 x 2 in., Sydney & Walda Besthoff, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas. Resist, 2017, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, gold leaf, and oil stick on canvas mounted on wood panel, 84 x 108 x 2 in., © Mickalene Thomas. Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires, 2010, Mickalene Thomas, rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel on wood panel, 120 x 288 x 2 in., The Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, © Mickalene Thomas.