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Still Life with Mandolin

Oil on masonite
19 7/8 x 35 1/4 inches
Circa 1955
Work on loan: Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee

As published in:
Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection

Southern/Modern: Rediscovering Southern Art from the First Half of the Twentieth Century

As exhibited in:
Southern/Modern: Rediscovering Southern Art from the First Half of the Twentieth Century, 2023–2024, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, 2023, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee, 2024

Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful, 20212022, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, July 9–October 3, 2021; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, October 30, 2021–January 23, 2022; Frist Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee, February 25–June 6, 2022; The Columbus Museum, Georgia, July 1–September 25, 2022

Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection, 20182021, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens; Mississippi Musuem of Art, Jackson; Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia; Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina; Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia

The first African American woman artist to receive a solo exhibition at a major national arts institution—the Whitney Museum of American Art—Alma Thomas only began to seriously paint after she retired from thirty-eight years as a public school art teacher in Washington, DC. Although she is best-known for abstract canvases of vibrant color, Thomas’s earlier works reflect academic traditions and an interest in representational genre scenes of African Americans. Still Life with Mandolin demonstrates her efforts to master the concepts of depth, color, light, and shadow, incorporating styles of art historical predecessors such as Picasso, Matisse, and Cézanne. Here, Thomas opts for a reduction of forms reminiscent of Cubism, while her deft use of cohesive triadic colors allude to future chromatic experimentations.

 

Other works by this artist