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  • December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM
    December 31, 1969
    7:00 PM

Hank Willis Thomas

Born in Plainfield, NJ, 1976
Lives and works in New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA

Day 10: Hank Willis Thomas

The world of advertisement—and all the sociopolitical implications it has regarding race, gender, and class—provide the launching pad for Hank Willis Thomas’ bold photographs.  Sometimes, his works include autobiographical information, as in Priceless #1, which riffs off the famous MasterCard slogan yet depicts the funeral of his murdered cousin, Songha Willis.

Watch Hank Willis Thomas explains the making of Priceless #1 at the Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

Hank Willis Thomas discusses his work as part of the Corcoran's Visiting Artist program.


2004 M.F.A., California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA
2004 M.A., California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA
1998 B.F.A., New York University, New York, NY

Selected Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions

2011 Hank Willis Thomas: Scouring the Earth for My Affinity, Samson Gallery, Boston.
Hank Willis Thomas: Hope and Question Bridge
, John Hope Franklin Center and Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, North Carolina.
2010 Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.
Hank Willis Thomas, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris.
2009 Hank Willis Thomas: Light Text, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Hank Willis Thomas, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland.
Hank Willis Thomas: Black is Beautiful, Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles, California.
Hank Willis Thomas: Pitch Blackness
, Jack Shainman Gallery.
Annarumma 404, Milan, Italy
2009 Digging Deeper, with Willie Cole, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
2008 Houston Collects: African American Art, Caroline Weiss Law Building, The Museum of Fine Arts,
Houston, Houston, TX
2007 Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Von Lintel Gallery, New York, NY
Winter in America, with Kambui Olujimi, Scanners: The 2007 New York Video Festival, New York, NY;
traveled to The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
2006 B®ANDED, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY
2005 Bearing Witness, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions

2010-2013 Global Africa Arts Project, Museum of Art and Design, New York. Traveled to: Reginald Lewis Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, January–June 2012; High Museum, Atlanta Georgia, June–September 2012; Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and Bellevue Art Museum, Seattle Washington, November 1012–February 2013. Curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, Charles Bronfman, and Leslie King-Hammond. (Catalogue)
2012 The Sports Show, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota.
2011 12th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey.
Go Figure, Smart Museum, University of Chicago, Illinois.
Converging Voices, Transforming Dialogue: Selections from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection, University Museum, Texas Southern University.
Building The Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art: An International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway, opened June 20, 2009. Traveled to:Chicago Cultural Center.
2010-2011 Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists, Bronx Museum, New York, January 27, 2010–May 29, 2011. (Catalogue)
Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1980s to the Present (traveling exhibition), Newark Museum, New Jersey, February 2, 2011–April 28, 2011. Previously exhibited: Williams College of Art, Williamstown, MA; Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
2010 Huckleberry Finn, Wattis Institute, San Francisco, CA
Greater New York 2010, PS1, Queens, NY
Unfixed, Center for Contemporary Art, Dordrecht, Netherlands
In Context, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
After 1968, Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY
Houston FotoFest Biennial, Houston, TX
Beg, Borrow, Steal, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL
Art of Caring, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans
Searching for the Heart of Black Identity and the Contemporary African American Experience, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville
2008–2010 After 1968: Contemporary Artists and Civil Rights Legacy, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, June 7–October 5, 2008. Traveled to: Skirball and CAAM, Lose Angeles, November 19, 2009–March 10, 2010; Bronx Museum of the Arts, March 28–August 11, 2010. (Catalogue; text by Jeffrey D. Grove)
Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas: Progeny, Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami, June 14–August 31, 2008. Traveled to: Harvey B. Gantt for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 8, 2009–January 9, 2010.
2009–2010 Digging Deeper: Willie Cole in collaboration with Hank Willis Thomas, Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut, September 19, 2009–April 4, 2010.
Dress Codes: The Third ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, International Center of Photography, New York, October 2, 2009–January 17, 2010. Curated by Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers, Kristen Lubben and Vince Aletti. (Catalogue)
2009 Black is, Black Ain’t, Renaissance Society, Chicago, April 20–June 8, 2008
Unnatural Rubber, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
Black Atlantic, ar/ge Kunst Galerie Museum
1969, PS1, New York
The Art of Caring: A Look at Life Through Photography, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, 
Collected, Studio Museum in Harlem, NY
2008 After 1968: Contemporary Artists and the Civil Rights Legacy, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA [cat.]
Black Is, Black Ain’t, The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; traveling
to Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI; H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art
Institute, Kansas City, MO [cat.]
2007 Along the Way, video installation with The ©ause Collective, Oakland International Airport, Oakland,
CA; traveled to New Frontiers on Main, Sundance Film Festival, Park City, UT; The Great Wall of
Oakland, Oakland, CA
2006 Black alphabet - conTEXTS of contemporary african-american art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art,
Warsaw, Poland [cat.]
2005 Frequency, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY [cat.]

Selected Collections

Collections of Eileen Harris Norton and Peter Norton, Santa Monica, CA
International Center of Photography, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

30 Americans is organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami. The presenting sponsor at the Corcoran Gallery of Art is Altria Group.

Additional support has been provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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