New York City, NY
Alma Thomas examines the evolution of an artist who created a highly personal style that expanded upon traditional Abstract Expressionist and Washington Color School practices through experimentations with abstraction, color, line and pattern.
Thomas, who focused on her artistic career after retiring as a school teacher at the age of 69, chartered her own course as an African-American woman within Washington D.C.’s largely white and male mid-20th century artistic community. She often cited natural elements as inspiration, and her signature style reflects the influences of Henri Matisse, Josef Albers, and Wassily Kandinsky—featuring loosely painted yet meticulously constructed canvases, filled with lattice works of bright color creating patterns from negative space.
The exhibition features works from every period in her career, including rarely exhibited watercolors and early abstractions, as well as her signature canvases drawn from a variety of private and public collections.
Exhibition overview from the Studio Museum website
Whether you go or not, Alma Thomas is a comprehensive monograph examining the work this important artist in the Color Field movement and pioneer among African-American artists working in abstraction. Alma Thomas started her painting career at the age of 68, after retiring from teaching art to junior high school students in Washington, DC. At the age of 80, Thomas’s exuberantly colored abstractions were exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she was the first black female artist to be given a solo show. Filled with vibrant illustrations, this stunning volume traces Thomas’s development as an artist: her transition from figuration to abstraction, her fascination with the natural world and space exploration, and the mesmerizing mosaic-like paintings she completed before her death