Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle - Lévy Gorvy
  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas's exhibition Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy London

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy London 2021. Photo: Stephen White & Co

Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure PrincipleExhibitions

London
September 30 - November 13, 2021

#MickaleneThomas

Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

On September 30, Lévy Gorvy will open Mickalene Thomas’ Beyond the Pleasure Principle in London, the second chapter of a multipart exhibition that will unfold across four international cities during fall 2021 to present interconnected bodies of new work, ranging from painting and collage to installation and video. Over the past 20 years, Thomas has cultivated a distinctive vocabulary of Black erotica, Black female sexuality, and Black queer aesthetic and thought within her multidisciplinary practice to producing and exhibiting her work. With the sequential premieres of Beyond the Pleasure Principle in the gallery’s locations in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, Thomas sets out to formally, spatially, and philosophically draw attention to the central study of her art: the power and desirability of Black women, and their presence, imprint, and legacy in global avant-garde visual culture.

Alluding to a 1987 hit song by Janet Jackson and a 1920 landmark essay by Sigmund Freud, the title Beyond the Pleasure Principle signals Thomas’ personal, artistic, and political intentions while also acknowledging the intersection of influences and techniques that underlie her work.

In her Jet Blue paintings debuting in London at 22 Old Bond Street, the artist builds upon her newest series, which premiered in New York earlier in the month, with seven large-scale paintings composed of silkscreen, oil and acrylic painting, and rhinestone application. The paintings feature images of archival photos of Black women sourced from vintage Jet Magazine pin-up calendars. These new works reinforce Thomas’ formal and material concerns in the centering of Black femininity, in this case beyond her personal relationships of intimates the artist is most accustomed to working with as subjects, to include existing images from the 1970s, a period of the artist’s own adolescence and greatly influential to her overall oeuvre. Through her reworking of these images, Thomas tenderly imparts a familiarity and personalization with the women depicted in the paintings that, other than their monthly pseudonyms, were published as anonymous figures. Thomas will also premiere a film in London at 40 Albemarle Street made with her collaborator, Racquel Chevremont, titled Je t’aime Trois (2018; 15:27), that intensifies her dialogue with the past through personal narrative.

The women in her paintings, refracted through Thomas’ signature application of collage, take on a new dimensionality and context. Her collage is not one of media alone, but eras and allegories, with notable references to Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Faith Ringgold, as well as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, a demonstration of the diversity of cultural traditions that conceived modern art and thought. For Thomas—whose own work has long depicted the beauty and power of Black women in order to subvert the material and cultural oppression and marginalization to which they have been subjected—engaging in a cultural touchstone like Jet underscores her determined commitment to visibility and historical and contemporary celebrations of Blackness, femininity, transgressiveness, and queerness.

In the works on view at Lévy Gorvy London, Thomas advances her engagement with the mediums of painting and collage to the mid-century’s defining genre, Pop Art, evident through her references to the work of influential historical Pop artists such as Richard Hamilton. Thomas reconstructs the familiar forms and exuberant color palettes of modernist motifs around the models in the archival images from Jet Magazine, in a continuing process of centering Black women in a contemporary narrative of beauty and agency that stretches across artistic eras. The new Jet Blue series of paintings continues the overarching theme of Beyond the Pleasure Principle: the agency and impact of Black women and their representation in modern Western art history.

READ MORE

Selected Works

  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #25"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #25
    2021
    Rhinestones, acrylic, chalk pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with mahogany and silver leaf frame
    88 1/4 x 65 1/8 inches (224.2 x 165.4 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #26"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #26
    2021
    Rhinestones, fiberglass mesh, acrylic, chalk pastel, oil pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with mahogany frame
    93 3/4 x 64 3/8 inches (238.1 x 163.5 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #27"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #27
    2021
    Rhinestones, acrylic, oil pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with walnut and silver leaf frame
    88 3/4 x 64 7/8 inches (225.4 x 164.8 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #29"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #29
    2021
    Rhinestones, fiberglass mesh, acrylic, chalk pastel, oil pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with maple wood frame
    94 7/8 x 65 5/8 inches (241 x 166.7 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #30"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #30
    2021
    Rhinestones, acrylic, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with cherry and silver leaf frame
    88 1/8 x 64 1/8 inches (223.8 x 162.9 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #31"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #31
    2021
    Rhinestones, acrylic, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with mahogany and silver leaf frame
    88 1/4 x 64 1/8 inches (224.2 x 162.9 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #32"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #32
    2021
    Rhinestones, fiberglass mesh, acrylic, chalk pastel, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with cherry wood frame
    92 1/2 x 64 1/2 inches (235 x 163.8 cm)

    Inquire
  • Mickalene Thomas's artwork titled "Jet Blue #33"

    MICKALENE THOMAS
    Jet Blue #33
    2021
    Rhinestones, acrylic, mixed media paper, and archival pigment prints on museum paper mounted on Dibond with walnut and silver leaf frame
    88 1/4 x 64 3/8 inches (224.2 x 163.5 cm)

    Inquire

Selected Press

Evening Standard | The fine art of doing Frieze week for free

October 8, 2021

Next week the big buzz is centred on the two tents in Regent’s Park housing Frieze London and Frieze …

Vogue España | La artista Mickalene Thomas quiere que su mensaje de cambio se escuche alto y claro

October 4, 2021

Activista de la liberación de la belleza afro, la creadora visual ‘queer’ estadounidense Mickalene …

Il Giornale dell'Arte | Il potere nero tra pop e strass

October 1, 2021

Fino al 13 novembre a galleria Lévy Gorvy ospita nei suoi quattro spazi a New York, Londra, Parigi e …

Hong Kong Tatler | Black Beauties

October 1, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, who has changed the way we look at Black bodies, is presenting her life’s work in …

Vogue España | Venus de Ébano y Metal

September 27, 2021

La creadora visual ‘queer’ estadounidense MICKALENE THOMAS ha puesto su arte al servicio de la memoria …

Widewalls | A Grand Four-City Survey of Mickalene Thomas On View at Levy Gorvy

September 24, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, one of the most celebrated artists of her generation, creates politically charged …

Dazed | Mickalene Thomas

September 21, 2021

Reimagining the past with the edge of a razor, Mickalene Thomas’s kaleidoscopic oeuvre poses timely …

Harper's Bazaar Germany | Feine Fur alle Mit zuganglicher Kunst avancierte Mickalene Thomas zum Star. Fur Bazaar gestaltete die Vielgefragte ein Cover

September 20, 2021

Für Mickalene Thomas geht es in diesem Herbst rund. In der Mitte ihres Lebens befindet sich die Künstlerin …

Smithsonian Magazine | Mickalene Thomas’ Dazzling Collages Reclaim Black Women’s Bodies

September 7, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, a contemporary African American artist known for her stunning collages, is attempting …

Air Mail | Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

September 3, 2021

The exhibition will show in four chapters in Lévy Gorvy’s four galleries. The openings are staggered, …

The Brooklyn Rail | Mickalene Thomas with Amber Jamilla Musser

September 3, 2021

Beginning September 9 in New York City, Lévy Gorvy will present Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure …

Essence | The Black Body Electric

September 1, 2021

Mickalene uses a multitude of mediums show-casing the strength and vulnerability of Black women through …

Interview | Mickalene Thomas by Whoopi Goldberg

September 1, 2021

This fall, Mickalene Thomas is taking over the world. The artist is kicking off her four-city Lévy Gorvy …

The Canvas | Just Getting Started: Mickalene Thomas

September 1, 2021

Mickalene Thomas is taking over the world this autumn, and for her legion of fans, it can't come soon …

Document Journal | Mickalene Thomas remixes tropes from art history to reveal everyday Black women as icons

August 30, 2021

This fall, Mickalene Thomas will open Beyond the Pleasure Principle, an international exhibition across …

Frieze | Signs of Resistance in a New Painting by Mickalene Thomas

August 25, 2021

Mickalene Thomas does not have to prove that the women she depicts are beautiful, nor does her work give …

Vogue | In Four New Exhibitions This Fall, Mickalene Thomas Explores the Beauty of the Female Form

August 24, 2021

The four locations where Mickalene Thomas will show this fall are all part of the Lévy Gorvy gallery …

Time Out | Artist Mickalene Thomas mines vintage Jet Magazines for new show

August 19, 2021

The celebrated artist Mickalene Thomas, who frequently mines the cultural significance and contributions …

More Information