Mickalene Thomas was inspired by the latter image when she made what is considered the first solo portrait of Obama, a print donated to the Obama campaign shortly before the 2009 inauguration. She also punctuated the pop art reference with subtle nods to blaxploitation. Part of HuffPost Entertainment. More often than not, she embellishes the works with a bit of sparkle, giving them an added lift, amplifying their allure. | National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Kenneth I. Schaner, © Mickalene Thomas. She also punctuated the pop art reference with subtle nods to blaxploitation. The colorful collage she produced became the cover art of Solange's custom EP "True.". Compared with Thomas’s other work, the posterized image is relatively subdued, an appropriate choice for a political portrait. Thomas, inspired by Warhol’s 1960s screen prints of celebrities, superstars and other revered idols, used a similarly piercing style between figuration and abstraction to depict Michelle. Thomas’ mother Sandra Bush, was a fashion model and influenced her aesthetic. She painted First Lady Michelle Obama’s first individual portrait in 2008; the painting, titled Michelle O, subsequently went on view at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2008, not long before President Barack Obama's first term began, Thomas said she planned to donate a commemorative artwork to the New York City Board of Education. Here's Your Chance To Buy The First Portrait Of Michelle Obama As FLOTUS, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. (Courtesy Newcomb Art Museum, the artist and Lehmann Maupin New York and Hong Kong), 'Portrait of Solange Thinking About You," by Mickalene Thomas, 2013, Color photograph and paper collage on archival board. “There was all this excitement that was happening around Barack and Michelle being the first African-American President and first African-American First Lady, bringing people together about change and awareness. Artist Mickalene Thomas discusses Michelle Obama and Solange Knowles. Today is National Voter Registration Day! It only takes a minute. The exhibit continues through April 9. "She rolled the dice and decided to reach out to me to see if I would do a project with her, and I said yeah," Thomas recalled. “It is meaningful because it is a symbol of the time. 3. A blog focused on visual art from a Black perspective, Culture Type explores the intersection of art, history, and culture. Culture Type® is a registered trademark of Culture Type, LLC., and is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Kerry James Marshall Exhibition at MCA Chicago, In First Date Movie ‘Southside With You,’ Paintings by Ernie Barnes Fuel Connection Between Barack and Michelle Obama, Mickalene Thomas Art Rug Debuting at Barneys, Michelle Obama’s Viral Video with Young Admirer Opens Window Into Her Collection of African American Art, Recommended: Gary Simmons Talks to BOMB, Times on Collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Interview Anoints Jacolby Satterwhite, Martin Luther King Jr., 'Selma' and the Images that Captured the 1965 Voting Rights March, Black Motherhood and American Mourning: After Challenging Historic Narratives, Titus Kaphar Confronts Contemporary Realities, Yesomi Umolu is Tapped for Top Curatorial Post at The Serpentine in London, National Museum of Women in the Arts is Presenting First Survey of Textile and Social Practice Artist Sonya Clark in March 2021, Phillips is Hosting a Selling Exhibition With Dindga McCannon Whose Mixed-Media Works Center Black Women, On View: ‘Caroline Kent: A Sudden Appearance of the Sun’ at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, acquired by the National Portrait Gallery, America the Beautiful: Vision of Artist Lorraine O'Grady and Voice of Ray Charles Inspire New Biden-Harris Video, National Portrait Gallery: Titus Kaphar and Ken Gonzales-Day Explore 'UnSeen' Narratives in Historic Portraiture, Beginning in Late 1950s, African American Painters Known as 'Highwaymen' Captured Florida's Natural Landscapes. Thomas's depiction has become a part of history.