Having just unveiled a new monument in Boston devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, artist Hank Willis Thomas has joined the roster of Pace Gallery, one of the world’s biggest commercial art enterprises.
Thomas’s representation with Pace was quietly announced in a newsletter sent by the gallery on Friday afternoon, hours after the Boston sculpture was officially inaugurated.
With eight locations worldwide, Pace is a sprawling operation rivaled in prominence by just a handful of mega-galleries. Its stable includes artists such as Sam Gilliam, Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Robert Longo, Agnes Martin, Julian Schnabel, and many more.
Pace’s representation of Thomas was made official after the gallery merged with Kayne Griffin, a Los Angeles gallery that represented him prior to its shuttering last year.
Working in an array of mediums, Thomas has addressed topics as wide-ranging as methods of resistance, the relationship between Blackness and basketball, and the representation of Black and white people in advertisements.
A survey of his work toured the U.S. between 2019 and 2020. In 2018, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship.
With Eric Gottesman, Thomas founded the group For Freedoms in 2016. Initially formed as an artist-run super PAC, it now has the more expensive mandate of providing artists with opportunities to reimagine the U.S. through their work. And in 2020, Thomas started the Wide Awakes, an artist-led group that was meant to raise political consciousness in the run-up to the Presidential election.
In 2021, Thomas edited the “Deciders” issue of ARTnews, which seeks “to help identify and highlight individuals and institutions currently contributing to the cultural conversation in a pointed way—and moving that conversation forward.”
Thomas will still be represented by New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery, which held his first solo exhibition in 2006. He is still listed on that gallery’s roster, along with the one for London’s Ben Brown Fine Arts, with whom he has shown since 2017, and the one for South Africa’s Goodman Gallery, where he has had four solo shows since 2010.
The Embrace Memorial, the Boston monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, is 20 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Featuring a pair of bodiless arms embraced, the work is “a reminder that each of us has in us the capacity to be either of those two people or actually something inspired by and more influential,” Thomas said in a statement.
Thomas is the eighth artist that Pace has taken on in the last year, after Gideon Appah, Virginia Jaramillo, Acaye Kerunen, David Lynch, and others.