A few days ago, publicist Tara Solomon Instagrammed the picture below, breaking the news that Jessica Chastain had (as our British friends say) nabbed (all?) four covers of W's January Issue. (h/t TFS Forums)
I have a problem with something here, as usual.
The accompanying caption on the top cover in the picture below reads, "Jessica Chastain: Hollywood's It Actress Plays Muse to Artist Mickalene Thomas." Thomas has long been an art world star (hers was the first official portrait of Michelle Obama), but she's been having a particularly moment-y moment at the moment, due to a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum.
A question for everyone involved: Why is an artist famous for her complicated representations of black female sexuality making pretty pictures of a white starlet for a fashion magazine published by Conde Nast?
I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around why, when Thomas' entire career has been (I think) exclusively about representations of black women, she and W didn't seize the opportunity to elaborate on the themes of her work by photographing a black actress. Many people criticize the fashion industry for perpetuating a homogenized (young, white, thin) standard of beauty which excludes many different kinds of people, including racial minorities. It's a real issue, everyone knows it. There was an opening here to address it* in a way that could have been interesting and provocative, consistent with the artist's body of work, and appropriate to W. Instead, the image above, though pretty, looks like a flattened, defanged version of Thomas' most iconic pieces. That sucks.
*Just a disclaimer: Maybe they somehow did it in a way that's not coming across in the Instagram picture. I've only seen the image included here, so the final product and packaging might communicate something else. Maybe.