Mickalene Thomas: 7 Black Visual Artists that You Should Know

Ebony, October 28, 2022



Black visual artists may not be a topic that comes up in everyday conversation. But with more and more bright minds creating mixed media that expresses the Black experience, it's a subject that you may want to brush up on for your next dinner party. Here is a crash course on seven Black visual artists whose work you should know—from the color-drenched realism of Jordan Casteel to Gordon Parks black-and-white cultural snapshots—so you can drop a few gems of knowledge between courses.


Mickalene Thomas’ work is inspired by artists throughout history, from 19th-century French paintings to Blaxploitation films of the 1970s. It shines through her works, which are based on her own photographs and then rendered in mixed media. While she's been dubbed the queen of suggestive nudes, one of Thomas’ most successful mixed media works, Racquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit is fully covered. A collection of oil, acrylic, silkscreen, rhinestones, faux pearls, glitter, graphite and flock on wood panel, the painting sold for $1.8 million in 2021. Thomas also created, back in 2008, the first individual portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama.
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