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Black History Month 2021- Artist in Focus - Alma Thomas

Feast your eyes on the incredible colours of Alma Thomas!

Alma Thomas is best known for her beautiful paintings that draw influence from Abstract Expressionism and the Impressionist style of Pointillism, like the work pictured above. She spent much of her life teaching art and began painting seriously in later life.

She lived in worked for most of her life in Washington DC and is considered a pioneering member of the Washington Colour School, an art movement which started in DC and centered around a core of six abstract expressionist artists – Alma being one. They were prominent between 1950 – 1970.

An enthusiastic colourist, Alma's works are particularly noted for the rhythm and movement which they possess. The shapes which she used were inspired by her love of nature and that which she saw around her – particularly that found in her garden.

Alma was not recognised until her later years after retiring from teaching and rapidly gained success throughout the 1960s.

Alma Thomas became the first African-American woman to have a retrospective at the @whitneymuseum in 1972 and in the same year, one of her works was purchased for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan museum of Art, New York.

She sadly passed away in 1978.

The Wall Street Journal described her in 2016 as a previously "under-appreciated artist" who is more recently recognised for her "exuberant" works, noteworthy for their pattern and colour.

Jo McLaughlin

Feb 2021

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