Mickalene Thomas: 10 LGBTQ+ Artists Who Redefined Contemporary Art

MutualArt, September 6, 2022


In a changing art environment, LGBTQ+ can work as freely and prominently as never before. Here are some the shapers of this segment


The art market has changed substantially over the past years. From competing with digital art and NFTs to the belated race to build stronger online presences, art market players were forced to reckon with their lack of participation in the progress of the 21st century, especially with the onset of the pandemic. But the changes that artists, collectors, and institutions are faced with took root way before this decade and concern not only art that is being currently created, but also individuals and works that came into being over the past 100 years. The undervaluation of minority groups is one of the strongest factors that has been driving prices – and LGBTQ+ artists certainly belong to that segment. Here are some of the most important figures who have shaped the LGBTQ+ art space over the past decades and today.


We took a look at 10 major LGBTQ+ artists who have helped define the landscape of contemporary art, whose work engages with themes of identity politics, sexuality, gender and race.


Mickalene Thomas


Mickalene Thomas is a African-American contemporary artist based in New York, who is well known for her complex paintings, made from extravagant combinations of rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. Drawing on Western art history, pop art, and visual culture, Thomas examines and exposes conceptions of femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender. Her work has often been praised for its honest and unique representation of same-sex desires from a female perspective, as well its considered documentation of significant moments in African American history and culture.


One of today’s leading LGBTQ+ artists, Thomas has made waves in the art world in part due to her capacity to possess and re-interpret the legacy of Dadaism as a black lesbian woman. Thomas’ work mixes elements of abstraction and collage alongside a fascination with textiles and texture; opulent fabrics, glitter, diamantes and colorful paint surround and enmesh the subjects of her work. Combining these unlikely elements in excess, Thomas revels in the splendor of profligacy, using her art to suggest that materiality has an irreducible place in the creation and re-configuration of identity.

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