In this work, Mickalene Thomas has recreated the traditional image of the Three Graces, as familiar from Greek mythology. The Graces are presented in art-historical iconography as three women, representing conventional values of charm, beauty, and creativity. Instead of illustrating the Graces as Grecian/ European beauties (as Botticelli in the work that inspired this work, Primavera), Thomas has updated them as modern African-American women, made up and dressed up, as if for a night out on the town. The women wear bright, bold patterns, drawing attention to their figures and emphasizing their femininity. At the same time, Thomas has created a scene that seems fractured, literally- the picture plane is continually disrupted by geometric, neon lines, fragmenting the entire panel into tessellated shards. The effect is fresco-like, perhaps a reference to the ancient Greco-Roman tradition of the Three Graces? Overall, the panel is jarring and attention-grabbing, a celebration of the African-American feminine power and beauty.
tags: allusion, narrative, fashion
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)