Hank Willis Thomas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hank Willis Thomas
Born (1976-03-17) March 17, 1976 (age 41)
Plainfield, New Jersey
Nationality American
Alma mater MFA/MA California College of the Arts,
BFA Tisch School of the Arts

Hank Willis Thomas (born March 17, 1976 in Plainfield, New Jersey) is a contemporary African-American visual artist, photographer and arts educator whose primary interests are race, advertising and popular culture.


Thomas received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography and a Master of Arts in Visual Criticism from California College of the Arts (CCA) in 2004.[1] He also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Africana Studies from New York University (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts in 1998.[1]


Hank Thomas is the winner of the first ever Aperture West Book Prize for his monograph Pitch Blackness (November, 2008). His work has been featured in other publications including Reflections in Black (Norton, 2000), and the exhibitions along with accompanying publications 25 under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (CDS, 2003), and 30 Americans (RFC, 2008).[2]

Thomas had solo exhibitions at the Lisa Dent Gallery in 2004[3] and 2006.[4] Since then he has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Galerie Anne De Villepoix in Paris; the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg; P.S.1 Museum in Queens; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; San Francisco; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Roberts & Tilton gallery in Culver City, California; The Gantt Center in Charlotte, North Carolina; The Bronx Museum, Bronx, New York; Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Jamaica, New York; Artists Space, New York; Leica Gallery, New York; Texas Woman’s University; Oakland Museum of California; Smithsonian; Anacostia Museum, Washington, D.C.; Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at NYU; National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.; and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., High Museum, Atlanta, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.[citation needed]

Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Art in Houston. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. Recent exhibitions include Dress Codes: The International Center for Photography’s Triennial of Photography and Video, Greater New York at P.S. 1/MoMa, Contact Toronto Photography Festival and Houston Fotofest.[citation needed]

Thomas explores the representation of the African-American male body in visual culture in his B(r)anded Series.[5][6] Writing in The Guardian, critic Arwa Mahdawi observed: "Thomas’s work 'unbrands' advertising: stripping away the commercial context, and leaving the exposed image to speak for itself."[7]

Thomas has acted as a visiting professor at CCA and in the MFA programs at Maryland Institute College of Art and ICP/Bard and has lectured at Yale University, Princeton University, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

He received a new media fellowship through the Tribeca Film Institute and was an artist in residence at Johns Hopkins University.[2] He is currently a DuBois Institute Fellow at Harvard University.

Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.


Thomas's mother, Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is an art photographer and an NYU professor. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow and one of the nation's leading historians of African-American photography and curator of African-American culture. His father, also Hank Thomas, is a jazz musician, film producer, real estate developer and stock broker.[citation needed]


  • Willis, Deborah, Hank Willis Thomas, and Kalia Brooks. Progeny: Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas. New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 2009. ISBN 978-1-884919-23-7
  • Thomas, Hank Willis, René De Guzman, and Robin D G Kelley. Pitch Blackness. New York: Aperture, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59711-072-3
  • Harney, Elizabeth, editor. Flava: Wedge Curatorial Projects 1997-2007. Toronto: Wedge Curatorial Projects, 2008. Page 131. ISBN 978-0-9783370-0-1
  • Rhoden, William C. Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. New York: Crown Publishers, 2006. Page 182. ISBN 0-609-60120-2
  • Thomas, Hank Willis, Kambui Olujimi, and Carla Williams. Winter in America. San Francisco: 81 Press, 2006. ISBN 0-9777336-0-2
  • Armstrong, Elizabeth, Rita Gonzalez, and Karen Moss. California Biennial 2006. Newport Beach, CA: Orange County Museum of Art, 2006. Pages 152-5. ISBN 0-917493-42-7
  • Murray, D.C. "Hank Willis Thomas at Lisa Dent." Art in America. December 2006: p. 165.
  • Dawsey, Jill. "Hank Willis Thomas." Artforum.com, March 2006.
  • Golden, Thelma, and Christine Y. Kim. Frequency. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem, 2005. Pages 7, 88-89. ISBN 0-942949-30-7
  • Bing, Alison. "Image Consciousness." SFGate.com, 28 October 2004: p. 78.
  • Willis, Deborah. Black: a Celebration of a Culture. Irvington, NY: Hylas Publishing, 2004. Pages 221, 230, 290. ISBN 1-59258-051-3
  • Addo, Ping-Ann. Pieces of Cloth, Pieces of Culture: Tapa from Tonga & the Pacific Islands. Oakland, CA: Center for Art and Public Life, California College of the Arts, 2004.
  • Hill, Iris Tillman. 25 Under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers. Brooklyn, NY: powerHouse Books in association with the Center for Documentary Studies, 2003. ISBN 1-57687-192-4
  • Gore, Al, and Tipper Gore. The Spirit of Family. New York: Henry Holt, 2002. Pages 14–5. ISBN 0-8050-6894-5
  • M.I.L.K. Project. Friendship: a Celebration of Humanity. New York, NY: Morrow, 2001. ISBN 0-06-620970-6
  • Willis, Deborah. Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. Pages 257-8, 277. ISBN 0-393-04880-2
  • Carroll, Rebecca. Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1997. Cover. ISBN 0-517-88497-6
  • Cottman, Michael H, Deborah Willis, and Linda Tarrant-Reid. The Family of Black America. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996. Pages 122-6. ISBN 0-517-88822-X
  • Cottman, Michael H, and Deborah Willis. Million Man March. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995. Pages 13, 39, 81. ISBN 0-517-88763-0


  1. ^ a b "Hank Willis Thomas". Beth Schiffer Creative Darkroom. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.hankwillisthomas.com
  3. ^ "Featuring contemporary artists 2004". Lisa Dent Gallery. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  4. ^ "Featuring contemporary artists 2006". Lisa Dent Gallery. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  5. ^ Dutra, Robyn. "The New Regime: Hank Willis Thomas." Black Book, December 4, 2008. Accessed August 4, 2009.
  6. ^ Davis, Beandrea. "The Elusive Concept of Blackness." Colorlines, November/December 2007. Accessed August 4, 2009.
  7. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa. "The truth about adverts: selling the White Woman™", The Guardian, April 29, 2015

External links[edit]