Les Dejeuners, an original work by Mickalene Thomas thatll be on display at SAM beginning in February.
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires is an original work by Mickalene Thomas that'll be on display at SAM beginning in February.

Seattle Art Museum hosts some pretty remarkable exhibitions. Case in point: Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors, which freelance Stranger art critic Emily Pothast has called "one of the must-see experiences of the summer." (Full story in the summer edition of The Stranger's Seattle Art & Performance Quarterly, which drops tomorrow.) Infinity Mirrors opens June 30, and advance tickets are already sold out, though a limited number of timed tickets will be available onsite for same day entry on a first-come, first-served basis. 'Course, if you wait too long, you'll miss out on those as well. Don't do that.

Do make sure to mark you calendar for another upcoming show at SAM. The date is pretty far out (it happens February 18-May 13, 2018) but it's worth mentioning now—Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, which features three generations of preeminent American artists whose large-scale paintings reinvent history as seen in a modern context.

From the release:

The paintings on view are distinctive in style, subject matter, and in the historic moments they reference, but collectively they critique and redefine mainstream narratives of history and representation. In their portrayals, these artists provide testimony centered on Black experience. 

The genre of history painting occupies a privileged place in the history of European art. Beginning in the Renaissance with representations of mythological, religious, and literary themes, the most famous artists of the time were commissioned to commemorate pivotal historical events that defined national identities. These large-scale works, done in the grand style, were displayed in ceremonial venues and celebrated the ruling class. Colescott, Marshall, and Thomas all lay claim to the history of the genre, but with a poignant retelling of American history from a Black perspective, giving prominence to histories and individuals that have been erased or suppressed.

According to Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, “Figuring History opens a door into a labyrinth of questions … Who writes history, who is present in its accounts—but also how do we square, reassess, and go forth with the artistic, social, and political histories that we have all inherited? These artists and their work speak about the past as much as the present.”

Works on loan from various institutions and collections, plus pieces from SAM’s own assemblage will be on display, and Mickalene Thomas intends to produce some new paintings specifically for the show.