Art at the DIANew Acquisitions

Inside the Italian Art Galleries
Inside the Italian Art Galleries

New Acquisitions

Something You Can Feel, Mickalene Thomas, 2008, rhinestone, acrylic, and enamel on panel. Detroit Institute of Arts 
Something You Can Feel exemplifies contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas’s distinct portrayal of African American women in large brightly colored paintings displaying surfaces encrusted with rhinestones and glitter. The woman depicted here exudes confidence and style while seated within a domestic interior reflecting a 70s aesthetic that recalls the artist’s earliest memories of her fashionable mother. The sparkling elements emphasize contrasting retro design patterns in the sofa, pillows, ottoman, and background. They also outline the figure of the woman, details of her facial features, the veil of her hat, and the folds in her blue dress. Inspirations for Thomas’s depiction of the subject of women in domestic interiors are diverse and include paintings by Edouard Manet, and Henri Matisse, as well as photography by James Van Der Zee and Seydou Keitu. By looking backward at art history and forward at contemporary art and her culture to construct images of African American women, Thomas addresses their absence from the history of American fine art and overturns traditional notions of black bodies, beauty, power, sexuality and femininity.

The painting is on view in the African American Art gallery N290 within the Contemporary Art Suite of galleries. 

 Black Moorish Woman (Mauresque Noire), Charles Cordier, 1856, bronze, silvered, gilt, black, brown and green patina. Detroit Institute of Arts

In 2012, the DIA acquired this exceptionally fine, important, and unique polychromed bronze bust entitled Mauresque Noire by the talented French sculptor Charles Cordier (1827–1905). Cordier entered this particular work for the 1862 London International Exhibition and his 1865 Paris Sale, in both of which it was highly acclaimed. Cordier’s documented and recently rediscovered Mauresque Noire is one of the best examples of polychrome sculptures this artist who was the first to explore, portray and celebrate ethnic diversity in a wide range of subjects. The attractive and elegant appearance of the richly costumed Algerian woman, who lived next door to Cordier in Algiers, evokes not merely outer beauty, but also a strong, eternal beauty.
Corn, Ogata Korin, 18th century, ink and colors on gold paper. Detroit Institute of Arts

Ogata Korin (1658–1716) left many fine round-fan paintings that express his superior composition skills. Corn, now mounted as a small hanging scroll, depicts a cornstalk with an ear of corn and leaves on a gold background. By heavily layering the pigment, the artist has given the corn kernels a three dimensional appearance, and the ear is shown as if being blown by a mild breeze. This painting bears Korin’s signature and seal, which reflect the typical style of his later years.

Korin was born into a Kyoto family that owned a luxury textile shop. The family had ties with powerful samurai who were important clients of the shop. Korin grew up surrounded by the newest and most high-quality textiles with the most refined designs. He likely produced many round-fan paintings, probably because they were very popular, refined gifts. In addition to painting, he expressed his unique aesthetic in designs for lacquerware.


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