1 More
Property from an Important Chicago Collection

Don’t Forget About Me (Keri)

Don’t Forget About Me (Keri)
signed, titled and dated 'Don't Forget About Me (KERI), 2009 M. Thomas' (on the reverse)
rhinestones, acrylic and enamel on panel
84 x 72 1/8 in. (213.4 x 183.2 cm.)
Executed in 2009.
Lehmann Maupin, New York
Adam Sender, Los Angeles
His sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 12 November 2014, lot 540
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
C. Kino, “A Confidence Highlighted in Rhinestones,” The New York Times, 7 April 2009 (illustrated).
T. Golden, “Elsewhere: Completely Biased, Entirely Opinionated Hot Picks,” Studio: The Studio Museum in Harlem Magazine, Summer/Fall 2011 , p. 33 (illustrated).
“Three artists ‘paint’ with materials,” The Des Moines Register, 14 May 2011, p. 33 (illustrated).
New York, Lehmann Maupin, Mickalene Thomas: Shes Come UnDone!, March-May 2009.
Des Moines Art Center, Surface Value, May-August 2011, pp. 46-47 and 49 (illustrated).
New Orleans, Tulane University, Newcomb Art Museum and Houston, Rice University, Moody Center for the Arts, Mickalene Thomas: Waiting on a Prime-Time Star, January 2017-January 2018, p. 6 (illustrated).

Brought to you by

Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Head of Department

Lot Essay

Included in the artist’s first New York solo exhibition, Mickalene Thomas’s Don’t Forget About Me (Keri) is a striking portrait that challenges the accepted conventions of the genre. By featuring a Black woman as its subject, the artist reverses centuries of invisibility of the Black figure in art history. Taking inspiration from sources as varied as Cubism, Matisse, Yoruban art, and ‘70s television sitcoms, Thomas has developed a contemporary visual language that is rich with both historical and contemporary resonance; a companion photo collage, also called Don’t Forget About Me (Keri), is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

“I like my women to be presented as very conscientious, very empowered, very charismatic – strong women who are aware of their environment and their experiences. I’m not making them do anything. It’s a collaborative effort, because I’m taking the image, I’m photographing them, but they’re aware of me doing this with them. It’s not as though the artist is explaining the sitter.” Mickalene Thomas

Standing seven feet tall, the figure of Keri commands the composition. Her bright yellow shirt and blue pants add vibrant pops of color, while rhinestones affixed to the surface of the canvas add an extra level of visual sparkle. The space in which she is standing is a highly charged arrangement of eclectic patterning; scalloped black circles, floral wallpaper, and faux-wood veneers, together with color blocks of black, white, and blue provide for a highly active setting. This is reminiscent of the décor of the living rooms in 1970s sitcoms, the place where family and friends would gather to talk, argue, and eventually put the world to rights. Indeed, Thomas has acknowledged the personal resonance of her unique visual aesthetic: “[It is the place] where the women of my family would come together for intense dialogues,” she has said (M. Thomas, quoted in L. Melandri, “Points of Origin: An Interview with Mickalene Thomas” in Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe, ed. L. Melandri, exh. cat., Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2012, p. 33).

In work such as Don’t Forget About Me (Keri), these dialogues—and others—take place within a wider art historical context. Historically, the black woman has been subjugated in art, playing the role (if included at all) of a maid, slave, or an ‘erotic other.’ This work is part of a series in which Thomas features trans women and transvestites, and her interiors open up a space of freedom, a space in which black women can be proud of their bodies and express themselves in whatever way they wish. Thomas’s women do not cower – they take fierce charge of their surroundings, boldly asserting their presence, ascertaining above all that the woman’s moment of liberation is just a whisper away.

Thomas uses her work to play on the impact of the visual image too: “There’s the power of the visuals, yes, and how we begin to believe our own truths or memories, whether or not there’s myth, and how they then become our reality. And so, as artists we create time capsules for histories. I find this very interesting, how people believe their own lies, their own truths, or their own memories or fantasies or dreams. These become reality to the point one might think: 'Well, did that really happen?' When my mother passed in 2012, I came across photos that were almost a validation of my memory of childhood experiences. The photos encapsulated many moments for me – “Okay, now I have some evidence of what happened in my life. Now I have images
from which to work. So now I have material to use for creative ideas and put the pieces of the puzzle together” (M. Thomas, quoted in M. Eisler, “Frieze NY Special: In the studio with Mickalene Thomas,” Lux, online).

By mixing together the personal and the political, and the historical with the contemporary, Thomas is forcing a dialogue about representation for the future. Her space utilizes disparate visual elements, and by working it over with paint, collage, and other additions, the artist creates a final work that vacillates between two and three dimensions. The transformation of a real figure into stylized limbs, exaggerated proportions, and swaths of glitter creates a dynamic dialogue about the portrayal of women in art and the constant struggle to overcome decades of objectification.

More from 21st Century Evening Sale

View All
View All