B. United States, 1891-1978
B. United States1891-1978
Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was an African-American artist and teacher, best known for her monumental abstract expressionist works painted during the late years of her life. For 35 years, Thomas worked as an art teacher at Shaw Junior High School between 1924-1960. From 1960 onwards, she focussed on creating art, experimenting with a wide range of media and styles. Thomas was a founding member and Vice President of the Barnett-Aden Gallery, the first successful Black-owned private art gallery in the United States. She is considered a member of the Washington Color School and was also part of the artist community known as the Little Paris Group. Her works are defined by an intense interest in colour, geometric abstraction, and tessellated brushstroke patterns.
Thomas earnt her teaching degree from University of the District of Columbia. During the early 1930s she attended Teachers College of Columbia University, studying for a Masters in Art Education, focussing on sculpture and marionettes. In 1950, Thomas studied Art History and Painting at American University. Thomas reached critical acclaim late in her artistic career, being the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art at age 81. Thomas’ work is held in numerous influential permanent collections, including the White House Historical Association, Washington; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Thomas died in 1978.
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