Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.


Mickalene Thomas’ All About Love at The Broad May 25 – September 29, 2024 (all photos from Megan Derry)

Mickalene Thomas’ deeply personal and expansive show is now open at the Broad in downtown Los Angeles and it is worth an entire afternoon should you choose to engage in enthusiastic artistic conversation with this prolific artist.

The Broad should be commended for their trust in Thomas and for giving her not only the space, but a controlling hand in the look, feel and installation of this tremendous body of work. Thomas admitted at the press opening that “damn – I’ve done a lot of work” and with 90 works, this show represents only a fraction of her output. One can hope that this expansive show will urge other museums and institutions to consider mounting such monumental exhibitions in order to better understand both the artist and the context in which their work is placed.

Mickalene Thomas pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a constantly evolving and self-examining artist who challenges not only the viewer, but herself, in looking at her life as a queer black woman in America. Without labelling the artist as such, it would do a disservice to her deeply personal, yet universal, perspective of growing up “other” in America and it gives voice to what could be labelled as the”American fever dream”

As large and expansive as this show can initially feel, it is, at its core, a deeply intimate experience. Thomas counts on a mutual trust and acceptance between herself and the viewer in order to experience true vulnerability. As you encounter a particularly large canvas it can feel overwhelming but at closer investigation you can see and feel the layers of emotionality and experience which give it its own specific truth. And Thomas’ modalities also change and swerve without notice, indicating a true artistic response to communicating what she is feeling in that moment or time.

Thomas also takes classical construction and turns it on its ear … Venus reclining becomes A Little Taste Outside of Love. Angelito’s Negros video installation employs the lament of Eartha Kitt’s passionate and sobering cry for Black angels as a response to white Christianity and non-inclusive, judgmental doctrine. Afro Goddess Looking Forward is resonant of classical Renaissance portraiture – the muse’s gaze challenging you to stay engaged.

Thomas has said that she both studied and contemplated a career in interior design and that impulse is eminently evident in her choices of fabric, objects, paintings and site specific arrangement for All About Love – figuratively and literally placed at Mt. Vernon, New York where Thomas grew up. Walking through her “neighborhood” you are instantly transported to the 1970’s of her childhood and those formative years, which gradually give way to her adulthood and emergence into full womanhood.

Quite honestly, I am still digesting the first viewing All About Love and plan to return at least one more time to fully engage in contemplation of this show.

The thread that connects this show, that pulls you around every corner, across every expanse and space, and through every doorway, is Mickalene herself. “Come along with me and I will show you” she seems to say. I encourage you to do so.

All About Love
May 25 – September 29, 2024

The Broad
221 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Megan Derry
Megan Derry
Megan Derry is a photographer and art enthusiast.

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