Today Mickalene Thomas’s first solo museum exhibition opens at the Brooklyn Museum. It is great, and so is the Bk Museum’s website for the show. There’s a playlist Thomas has created and a slide show of the installation.
The show is subtitled “Origin of the Universe,” which is a reference to the Gustave Courbet painting “Origin of the World.” Thomas also interprets another iconic French work, Edouard Manet’s “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe” to fun effect. If she has made works of interiors or landscapes before, I’m not familiar with them, and saw some for the first time last night. A few of the interiors I loved but the landscapes were okay. I love when she has models and combinations of textiles, patterns, textures in the paintings. She’s represented by Lehmann Maupin here in New York. They will have an exhibition of work opening November 1.
I could go into the social context of her work, how she populates famous Modern paintings with African-American models and wrests control from the dead male (mostly European) artists for herself and women, but you can read the critics’ reviews and they’ll tell you all that. I’m not downplaying her work but what I can add that the critics haven’t already said? Sometimes it’s just nice to like an artwork with your instant gut reaction and not over think it. Plus after working in an art gallery for so long I always look at museum or gallery shows with the “Would I want to own that?” perspective, so I already have my judgment goggles on.
I took pictures of the work that I liked and a few that I didn’t. I didn’t use a flash and the guards didn’t stop me. There are better reproductions of the work out there.
UPDATE: If you want more info On Mickalene Thomas, her bio, works available, exhibitions, check out her Artsy page: