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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

Celebrating the female black queer gaze: Mickalene Thomas

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

The growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and the increased media focus on black culture have brought a multitude of extraordinary black artists to my attention. My latest and hugely exciting discovery is Mickalene Thomas (b.1971).

Thomas uses a unique combination of paint, fabrics, rhinestones and glitter to create dazzling mixed-media works that draw on western art history and popular culture. Her vision of female beauty and sexuality challenges and subverts stereotypes and is represented by striking black women oozing confidence in their identity and in their own bodies.

In this work, Thomas takes on none other than Manet. I am in love with the boldness of the sitters and the way they defiantly look into the camera. This is a 'double whammy' where the appropriation of an iconic work of art succeeds in both readdressing the marginalisation of black people and the objectification of women in art history. Thomas delivers a seductive and uncompromising restaging of the western canon through the 'gaze of a black woman unapologetically loving other black women’.

In support of Gay Pride Month, for every view of this post and for every like to my instagram post, I will donate £2 to Mind Out, a mental health service run by and for lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in the UK.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires #5, 2017

Édouard Manet

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, 1863

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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