Lévy Gorvy Is Dedicating All Four of Its Global Galleries to Mickalene Thomas, a Growing Art-Market Force, This Fall

The artist just set a new auction record of $1.8 million last month.

Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #25 (2021) ©Mickalene Thomas/Artists Rights Society (ARS).
Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #25 (2021) ©Mickalene Thomas/Artists Rights Society (ARS).

Mickalene Thomas is going to be all over the world this fall. The artist’s gallery, Lévy Gorvy, is devoting all of its spaces—in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong—to a four-part exhibition by the artist that will open on a rolling basis in September and October.

Thomas, who previously showed with Lehmman Maupin, specifically teamed up with Lévy Gorvy for the project.

“I’ve known Mickalene her entire career,” gallery co-founder Dominique Lévy told Artnet News. “I felt that if she had the time, the space, and the creative energy it would be extraordinary to have an exhibition that unfolded in four parts. Wherever you are in our four galleries you can see physical works, and you can still experience the full exhibition online. To me this is really the world of tomorrow.”

The show, titled “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” will include paintings, installations, and videos that continue Thomas’s distinctive exploration of the Black female body “as a realm of power, eroticism, agency, and inspiration,” according to a statement from the gallery.

Thomas’s latest large-scale “Jet” paintings—in which she reclaims images from vintage Jet magazine pin-up calendars—will be shown in New York. Her “Jet Blue” series—which re-situates historical source material to offer a contemporary vision of beauty and identity, will be on view in London. The Paris gallery will feature “Tête de Femme,” Thomas’s reckoning with art-historical predecessors including Picasso, Leger, and Warhol. In conjunction with the Paris presentation, Thomas will present a series of collages at Galerie Nathalie Obadia’s new location in the 8th arrondissement. The Hong Kong gallery will highlight large-scale “Resist” paintings, which focus on Black American civil-rights activism.

 

Prices for the primary market works range from about $350,000 to $550,000, according to Lévy.

Mickalene Thomas, Resist #2 (2021). © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Mickalene Thomas, Resist #2 (2021). © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Last month, Thomas’s painting Racquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit (2016), soared to $1.8 million at a Christie’s evening sale, roughly triple its high $600,000 estimate, and setting a new record for the artist. Several months earlier, in December 2020, another painting, I’ve Been Good to Me (2013), sold at a Phillips New York evening sale for $901,200, also a price that was triple its high $300,000 estimate.

“Auctions will do what auctions do,” Lévy said. “We want to keep the market attractive for collectors, for patrons, for museums, and we want to expand the market,” which means being careful about where and who the gallery sells to.

In addition to strong demand in the U.S., Thomas also has a growing base of fans in Europe, particularly in Paris. In Asia, there is interest, but not yet a following, Lévy said. “We’re hoping to create the same kind of response to her work in Asia.”

The fall show also coincides with the global release of the first monograph devoted to Thomas’s work. It will be published by Phaidon in November.

“Beyond the Pleasure Principle” opens September 9 in New York, September 30 in London, October 7 in Paris, and October 14 in Hong Kong.


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