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As an artistic subject, the female face has been depicted countless times, and so original portraiture attempts are usually ambitious. Mickalene Thomas, known for her paintings, photographs and collages of black women’s bodies (including her own mother) has shifted her focus to a more generalized feminine visage. “Tete a Femme,” now on view at Lehmann Maupin, features colossal portraits inspired by Modern and Pop art.
As with her past work, the facial features are obscured with symbolic representations of femininity: glitter, rhinestones, and paint. The obfuscation comments on the glamourized representation of women in the media, who are often photoshopped to such a degree as to be an abstracted version of themselves. While inspired by masters such as Matisse and Courbet, Thomas gives the work an added edge from a feminist perspective.
Carla is one piece that stands out for its composition and juxtaposition of black shapes with hues of crimson red, teal, and lime green. Others faces such as Untitled 3 are made-up as to look Bowie-esque.
Thomas also has concurrent exhibits this summer at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY and at the L’Ecole des Beaux Arts de Monaco. “Tete a Femme” will run through August 8.