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Alma Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful Exhibition Catalog

Alma Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful Exhibition Catalog

Yale University Press

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Achieving fame in 1972 as the first Black woman to mount a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Alma W. Thomas (1891–1978) is known for her large abstract paintings filled with irregular patterns of bright colors. This insightful reassessment of Thomas’s life and work reveals her complex and deliberate artistic existence before, during, and after the years of commercial and critical success, and describes how her innovative palette and loose application of paint grew out of a long study of color theory. Essays trace Thomas’s journey from semirural Georgia to international recognition and situate her work within the context of the Washington Color School and creative communities connected to Howard University. Featuring rarely seen theatrical designs, sculpture, family photographs, watercolors, and marionettes, this volume demonstrates how Thomas’s pursuit of beauty extended to every facet of her life—from her exuberant abstractions to the conscientious construction of her own persona through community service, teaching, and gardening.

About the Authors

Jonathan Frederick Walz is director of curatorial affairs and curator of American art at The Columbus Museum. Seth Feman was deputy director for art and interpretation and curator of photography at the Chrysler Museum of Art. He is now the director of the Frist Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

Explore related artwork by Alma Thomas at the Chrysler Museum

Product Details

  • Exhibition Catalog
  • Hardcover (cloth)
  • 336 pages
  • 307 illustrations
  • Publication date:
  • By Jonathan Frederick Walz and Seth Feman
  • With contributions by Tiffany E. Barber, Rebecca Bush, Aruna D'Souza, Jacqueline Francis, Kimberli Gant, Ross Gay, Grey Gundaker, Michael D. Harris, and Melanee Harvey
  • Height: 11.8 inches (30.0 cm)
  • Width: 9.5 inches (24.1 cm)
  • 5.0 lb (80.0 oz; 2268 g)
  • ISBN: 9780300258936
  • SKU010004622

About the Artist, Alma Thomas

Alma Woodsey Thomas (American, 1891 - 1978) was an African-American artist and teacher who lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and is now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th century. Thomas is best known for the "exuberant", colorful, abstract paintings that she created after her retirement from a 35-year career teaching art at Washington's Shaw Junior High School.

Thomas, who is often considered a member of the Washington Color School of artists but alternatively classified by some as an Expressionist, earned her teaching degree from University of the District of Columbia (known as Miner Normal School at the time) and was the first graduate of Howard University's Art department, and maintained connections to that university through her life. She achieved success as an African-American female artist despite the segregation and prejudice of her time.

Thomas's reputation has continued to grow since her death. Her paintings are displayed in notable museums and collections, and they have been the subject of several books and solo museum exhibitions. She was the subject of the Chrysler-curated exhibition, Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.

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Your purchase supports the mission and programs of the Chrysler Museum of Art (including the Perry Glass Studio, and the Moses Myers House). We couldn't do what we do without you. Thank you.

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