More about A Little Taste Outside of Love
In this painting Mickalene Thomas is riffing on the well-worn tradition of showing a female prostitute lying on her side giving you a sexy look.
In the 1800’s these paintings showed predominantly white 'ladies of the night,' painted nude for the viewing pleasure of sleazy European art dudes. You know, it’s cool to look at soft porn in public as long as you call it fine art!
These glamorous women were often accompanied by clothed Black women, who were depicted as servants or slaves. Women of color were never the center of attention. Until now, that is. Thomas decides to show a Black woman as the figure for us to admire. And how could you not? She's fabulous! And referential! She strikes a similarly butt-baring pose as ladies in classic paintings, like this Odalisque by François Boucher
And while the term 'Odalisque' traditionally refers to a concubine or slave, this diva seems fiercely independent and modern to me. Maybe it’s her awesome afro combined with the rhinestones and swirling graphic patterns, which reference the 1970s era of disco in which the artist grew up. Clearly, Thomas knows a lot about art history, and it's super important to recognize how the racial dynamics of historical painting are challenged here. But also…who doesn’t love glitter?