Hank Willis Thomas

One major recent acquisition is Hank Willis Thomas’ series “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America.” The whole series consists of 82 images, two for each year from 1968 to 2008, and the acquisition includes half of the series: one image from each year the series covers. The work appropriates print advertisement from 1968 to the present that targeted a black audience or featured black subjects. From the original ads, Hank Willis Thomas digitally removed all textual components as well as logos. The remaining figures and scenarios are often both captivating and perplexing, as the artist seeks to disclose the visual strategies of advertisers and how these are based in cultural stereotypes. The images encourages the viewer to think about how marketing images construct and underpin stereotypes about African American life in a way that is often embraced by the consumer of both the image and the product. We are hoping to show this new work at the Museum sometime next year.

Hank Willis Thomas from Brooklyn Museum on Vimeo.