Art at the DIANew Acquisitions

Inside the DIA Galleries
Inside the DIA 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.
 
 
 
Mother-of-Pearl Cosmetic Box, Unknown Korean artist, Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), wood, mother-of-pearl. Detroit Institute of Arts

This intricately decorated box reflects the importance of inlay in Korean lacquer work. The ornamentation on the small container, which would have been used in women’s quarters for the storage of combs and cosmetics, presents a variety of themes. On the top, peach trees and cranes among clouds surround a double circle. The inner circle contains the stylized Chinese character shou (su in Korean) symbolizing long life. On the front, four drawers are set in three tiers. The ones in the middle row feature geometric hexagon patterns. The four panels on the upper- and lowermost drawers are decorated with pairs of squirrels, deer, turtles, and mandarin ducks in landscape settings enriched with details of bamboo, pine trees, mushrooms, lotus, water, clouds, and the sun, combining on one object most of the ten symbols of longevity. The left and right side panels, which on similar examples are undecorated, feature a gnarled plum tree and elegant bamboo, symbols respectively for purity and renewal, integrity and long life.

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