Hank Willis Thomas was born in 1976 in New Jersey. He received a BFA in Photography and Africana studies from New York University and a MFA/MA in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of Arts.
Thomas is a photo conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He employs language and familiar imagery to address issues that are often overlooked in our pop culture-obsessed, consumerist culture. Thomas’ monograph, Pitch Blackness, won the Aperture West Book price.
Thomas exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad, including the International Center of Photography, Galerie Michel Rein in Paris, Studio Museum in Harlem, Galerie Henrik Springmann in Berlin, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, among others. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Brooklyn Museum,New York; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Thomas's collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and are installed permanently at the Oakland International Airport, The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California, and the University of California. He is also a recipient of the New Media grant from Tribeca Film Institute and New Media Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography for his transmedia project, Question Bridge: Black Males. Recent notable exhibitions include Hank Willis Thomas at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Repetition and Difference at the Jewish Musuem in New York. He was recently appointed to the Public Design Commission for the city of New York.
Thomas lives and works in New York City, New York.
SELECTED SOLO AND GROUP EXHIBITIONS
- All Things Being Equal, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, 22 September 2017 – 19 February 2018.
- Black Box: Kara Walker and Hank Willis Thomas, Baltimore Museum of Art
- Third Space/ Shifting Conversations About Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, 28 January 2017 – 6 January 2018.
- Sonic Rebellion: Music as Resistance, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 6 September 2017 – 7 January 2018.
- Prospect.4 New Orleans, 9 November 2017 – 25 February 2018.
- Sanctuary, For-Site Foundation at Fort Mason Chapel, 7 October 2017 – 11 March 2018.
- AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize, 6 September 2017 – 14 January 2017.
- Jacob Lawrence: Lines of Influence, SCAD Museum of Art, 7 September – 19 October 2017.
- State Property, BronxArtSpace, 9 September – 21 October 2017.
- Public Art in New York, Museum of the City of New York, 10 November 2017.
- The Beautiful Game, Ben Brown Gallery, 10 April 2017 – 24 November 2017.
- ...And the people, MARUANI MERCIER, Knokke, Belgium, Augustus 8 – September 9, 2017.
- Blind Memory and Freedom Isn’t Always Beautiful, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, February 22 – August 20, 2017.
- Posing Beauty in African American Culture, Snap! Gallery , January 13 – 11 February 2017.
- Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded: A Century of White Women, 1915-2015, York College Galleries, York, Pennsylvania, January 16 – February 2017.
- To Whom it May Concern, Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
- Primary Sources, David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
- The Truth is I See You, Metrotech, Brooklyn, NY
- In The Box: Hank Willis Thomas, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia
- Unbranded: A Century of White Women 1915-2015, Jack Shainmain Gallery, New York, NY
- ...and only the people, Galerie Henrik Springmann, Berlin, Germany
- History Doesn’t Laugh, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Question Bridge Black Males, DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, IL
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
- Albright - Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
- The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine
- Arts Museum, Florida
- Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
- Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
- Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
- Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
- Culture Corps, New York, NY
- Detroit Institute of Arts,Detroit, MI
- Eileen and Peter Norton Family Collection, Santa Monica, CA
- Frac Aquaitaine, Bordeaux, France
- Fundação Sindika Dokolo Collection, Angola
- Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
- Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong
- International Center of Photography, New York, NY
- Kadist Art Foundation, CA and Paris, France
- Martin Margulies Collection, Miami, FL
- Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX
- Nasher Museum, Durham, NC
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
- National Galery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
- Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
- Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
- Opa-locka Art, Opa-locka, FL
- Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
- Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL
- SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia
- Sir Elton John Collection, Atlanta, GA
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
- Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
- Ulrich Museum, Wichita, KS
- Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
- Weaterspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
- Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA