By Isis Davis-Marks via https://www.smithsonianmag.com/
A four-part exhibition premiering this fall showcases the contemporary artist’s multimedia portrayals of Black femininity
Museums are rife with images of nude white women reclining on chaise lounges. Take Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538): The titular figure lies naked atop a wrinkled white sheet, offering viewers a sidelong glance and a slight smirk. Her left hand hides her crotch, while her right hovers above a bundle of roses. Another famous nude, Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), shows a model lounging on a couch while her Black servant brings her a bouquet of multicolored flowers.
Mickalene Thomas, a contemporary African American artist known for her stunning collages, is attempting to challenge these passive, racialized depictions by “portraying real women with their own unique history, beauty and background,” as she told Smithsonian magazine’s Tiffany Y. Ates in 2018. One of the artist’s recent collages, Jet Blue #25 (2021), epitomizes this philosophy: The piece uses blue acrylic paint, glimmering rhinestones and chalk pastel to…