Guest Curator Mickalene Thomas selects her favorite works on Saatchi Online

We’re thrilled to have renowned artist Mickalene Thomas guest curating an exclusive collection of art as part of our ongoing Guest Curator series.

Read on to discover where she finds inspiration, the first piece of art she bought, the artist she’d most like to meet, and her favorite museum and gallery.

mickalene thomas

World-renowned artist Mickalene Thomas.


 New York-based Mickalene Thomas is best known for her paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel.

She has had many solo shows including at ICA, Boston, Lehmann Maupin, New York, Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, and Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles.

Her portrait of Michelle Obama was the first individual portrait done of the First Lady and was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Americans Now’ show in Washington, DC.

In addition to being one of the curators of our online exhibition, World Wide Wall, here Mickalene answers some questions about art, style, and inspiration.

Getting to Know…

Mickalene Thomas



What was the first piece of art you bought?
Balint Zsako and Jeffrey Gibson. I purchased them the same day.

How would you describe your taste in art? What are you most drawn to?
Most of the art I own is eccentric, diverse, and kick ass.  I am always looking at other artists, drawing inspiration from both the living and dead artists.  I am drawn to most artists energy and inventiveness.

What role does art play in your life?
Art is a part of all aspects of my life.

"Everything I Know" ($650)

“Everything I Know” by Charles Wilkin”

Which artist would you most like to meet?
David Hockney.

What do you collect?
Mostly works on paper, small paintings, and affordable sculpture.  I collect primarily emerging artists, but I also have works by Arlene Shechet, Huma Bhaba, Henry Taylor, Malick Sidibe, Matisse, Wangechi Mutu, Lisa Yuskavage, and Barkley Hendricks.

How would you describe your personal style?
My style is comfortable and eclectic.  My perennial favorites are Commes des Garçon, Paul Harnden, and Maison Martin Margiela – but my favorite new young designer is the fabulous Jose Duran!


“Schwandi” by Raphael Zollinger

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, which would it be?
I would love to own an Alice Neel portrait. Any one of her paintings!

What books are on your bedside table?
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.

What music are you currently listening to?
Millie Jackson!

"Portrait of R.5.13" ($500)

“Portrait of R.5.13″ by Heidi Zito

What was the last great exhibition you went to?
Blues for Smoke at the Whitney Museum

Do you have a favorite museum or gallery?
I just try to go to museums and galleries as often as I can, and not to completely miss any of the shows that I really want to see. I love going to the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  Every time I go there I see something new, or something that I hadn’t considered before, suddenly have a new relevance.  As an institution, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is constantly looking for new ways to engage the surrounding community and involve younger artists.

Do you have a favorite place you go to for inspiration?
A variety of places inspire me through my travels – most recently to Western Africa, France, England, Switzerland, and of course Brooklyn!

"Untitled Texture Painting #2" ($2,000)

“Untitled Texture Painting #2″  by Theodore Boyer

If you could give one piece of advice to young artists what would it be?
Most importantly make the art and build a strong studio practice. Try to have good friends over to your studio, and create a dialogue with your peers.  If one of your friends makes it, hopefully they will continue the cycle of bringing other people around- their network is your network.

What would you like to do if you weren’t an artist?
I’m doing exactly what I want to do. It’s difficult for me at this point in my life to imagine doing something other than being creative. There was a point in my life when I thought I would be an actress or a lawyer.  Now, I think I would be a philanthropist, but I would still make art, even if the ground fell out from under me.


  1. Lauren Telting Colomb says:

    Mickalene — you are fabulous. I have been following you for years now!!

  2. Colony says:

    Great interview and excellent picks! One of my favorites.

  3. River Lewis says:

    Love your answers in this interview, some rhinestones would have been great too!

  4. vincenzo aglione says:

    Hi miss Thomas,
    ive uploaded only 3 picture and i’m still stock in the w8 &w7 process to get all authorization .
    But we are talking about art, so i wonder if is possible that once i havell in place for a good start in my homepage in SAATCHI website,i repeat, would you express your free feelings on my art even by mail?
    Because i came to notice that to be on your or any curator laptop page there are rules that i mi$$ .
    Hopefully i have this asked chance or not.
    Surelly i will die poor but full of painted feelings.
    with all my apologies for what i have sad that may have been misplaced..
    Vincenzo Aglione or in the “$NoMorePain$ aka NMP


Trackbacks for this post

  1. Guest Curator: Mickalene Thomas : Saatchi Online Magazine : News and Updates for Art Lovers | Funk Sanctum Back Room

Leave a Comment