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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Hair Portrait #20

Photo: Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Hair Portrait #20


Mickalene Thomas

American, born 1971

Mickalene Thomas' Hair Portrait series taps the tradition of the celebrity portrait that Warhol popularized. Noting the exclusion of black women from portraiture in western art, Thomas turns her subject into a dazzling, glamorous icon. The artist understands hair styling as a unique form of expression and individuality for black women. In this work, a single portrait, which she found online, is repeated thirty times in different hues. Moving from light to dark, from visibility to near invisibility, the repetition of a single image—a practice Andy Warhol frequently deployed in his portraits—is given entirely new meaning.
Plastic rhinestones and acrylic on panel (30 panels)
Overall height: 90 in. (228.6cm) by Overall width: 300 in. (762cm), each panel 30 x 30 in.
General Acquisition Fund
Provenance: The artist; [Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2015
Photo: Lehmann Maupin Gallery
Not currently on view


For SAM’s My Favorite Things series in 2016, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, former Chair of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, highlights Mickalene Thomas’s Hair Portrait #20.


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Pop Departures, Oct. 9, 2014 - Jan. 11, 2015. No cat. no., pp. 39, 103, reproduced pp. 38, 90, 91.

Columbus, Ohio, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Gray Matters, May 20 - July 30, 2017. No cat. no., pp. 34-35, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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