Better Days: an Art Bar by Mickalene Thomas

Better Days: an Art Bar by Mickalene Thomas

Art Basel in Basel, June 2013

Absolut is pleased to announce a collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Mickalene Thomas on a large-scale art bar installation that will be in operation during Art Basel's show in Basel. Better Days will present a nightly programme curated by Mickalene Thomas, including live performances and appearances by guest DJs. The bar will serve bespoke Absolut cocktails designed by the artist in keeping with the installation's theme.

We are thrilled with Mickalene Thomas's plans for Better Days. She has developed an incredibly ambitious and immersive concept. From celebrity guest DJs spinning ‘70s classics to a bespoke range of punches and cocktails, Better Days will give visitors a truly unique experience.
           - Jonas Tåhlin, Vice President Marketing, The Absolut Company

Mickalene Thomas will transform the Galerie at Volkshaus, Basel into an apartment environment that takes its inspiration from the parties hosted by her mother (the artist's long-time muse) in the 1970s. Better Days is Mickalene Thomas's literal and conceptual reconstruction of the 1970s domestic aesthetic, complete with shag rugs and wood panelling, as well as custom sofas reupholstered with the artist's signature textiles. Each evening, Thomas will introduce guest and resident DJ performers, including DJ YSL and Derrick Adams, who will emulate the disco soundtracks of her mother's parties. Among the guest performers will be Solange Knowles, the internationally renowned recording artist who has collaborated with Thomas on several recent creative projects.

Combining the genres of portraiture and domestic interior, Mickalene Thomas draws on art history and popular culture to create contemporary images of black female sexuality, beauty, and power. Meticulously composed of layers of bold patterns and bright blocks of color adorned with Swarovski rhinestones, the paintings are based on photographic collages that are reproduced at a greatly expanded scale. Thomas draws inspiration from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists such as Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, and Romare Bearden. Combining patterns and styles drawn from a 1970s aesthetic, Thomas's compositions simultaneously recall the “black is beautiful” movement, as well as issues prevalent within the second wave of feminism.

The cocktail collection by Adrian Wong and Absolut

The cocktails recipes below were created by Mickalene Thomas and Absolut mixologist Andres Basile Leon exclusively for the Better Days Art Bar installation.

Proud Mary Proud Mary
  • Rosemary
  • Sugar
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Cucumber
Mama Fay Clarke Mama Fay Clarke
  • Kahlua
  • Cream
  • Absolut Vodka
Phuck U I Phuck U I
  • Watermelon
  • Lavender Tea
  • Various spices
  • Fruits
  • Berries
  • Absolut Vodka
Thangs Thangs
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Gelatin
  • Various Fresh Fruits


Photo Credit: Roberto Chamorro

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