Close
Date TimeJuly 28, 2018
VoiceCritics on both sides of the Atlantic have praised Mickalene Thomas’ strikingly vivid photographs for her positive representation of black women.
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
So when Vogue magazine ran a cover photograph of the pop star Rihanna which bore more than a passing similarity to Thomas’ own style it prompted angry accusations from fans of the African-American artist.
Juergen Teller, the acclaimed German fashion photographer who took the image, has now become the latest artist to face accusations of ‘cultural appropriation’ following claims he copied central elements of Thomas’s trademark style.
The French edition of Vogue published photographs of Rihanna posing against a backdrop of vibrantly contrasting throws and rugs, interspersed with shrubbery, furniture and animal sculptures.
One admirer of Thomas, a stylist and creative director who calls himself Steve Jxseph, wrote: “This is very similar to Mickalene Thomas’ work and Juergen needs to explain what’s going on.”
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
Thomas’s New York gallery weighed into the last week, issuing a pointed statement saying that Teller’s images had been “rightly compared” to her work.
The statement appeared to suggest that New Jersey-born Thomas, 47, had fallen victim to the sort of cultural appropriation which sees white artists use the work of black and ethnic minority artists without crediting their central role in its creation, whether in art, music or fashion.
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
It said: “Mickalene has earned the right to be recognized and commended for her ground-breaking contributions to contemporary art and visual culture, and for a signature aesthetic that she has been cultivating for decades.
“As Mickalene’s long-time gallery and advocate, we vigorously stand by her in defending the originality of her work.”
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
The Lehmann Maupin gallery also stated that Thomas' “prolific body of work has been instrumental in addressing inequality within art history and art institutions through her representation and reclamation of traditional art historical genres and depictions of beauty and desire around the female body, particularly Black women, who have too long been marginalized in our culture.”
It also pointed out that she had “developed an internationally recognized visual language” using photography, collage and painting, suggesting it regarded Teller’s work as a deliberate imitation.
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
Britain’s leading black newspaper, The Voice, has also voiced fears that Thomas’s work has been pushed to one side in favour of Teller’s.
It cited one New York Twitter user who wrote: “I know we are in an era where people feel like they can take whatever they want and call it original and theirs, but we should remember that artists like Mickalene have taken great pain to create an aesthetic that is informed by concern, study, history and a love of black women.
“It was once a very unpopular position to take and she took it anyway. We should honor and protect the space she created for herself and black women.”
Vogues Rihanna cover photographer accused of cultural appropriation
Vogue even appeared to acknowledge the similarity between Teller’s images and Thomas’s own work when they posted one of his photographs of Rihanna with the tagline “#MikaleneThomas” on Instagram to promote the magazine’s now controversial December edition.
Teller, who recently exhibited at the Moscow gallery owned by Roman Abramovich’s third wife Dasha, has previously worked with Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and the musician Björk..
He refused to comment about his photographs of Rihanna.

Related Stories
Rihanna Gets Candid About Marriage, Kids and Boyfriend Hassan JameelRihanna Gets Candid About Marriage, Kids and Boyfriend Hassan Jameel
Cardi B Shows Off Her Incredible Body In Rihanna’s Fenty Lingerie After Being Indicted - Sexy PicCardi B Shows Off Her Incredible Body In Rihanna’s Fenty Lingerie After Being Indicted - Sexy Pic
Rihanna Shows Off Her Fabulous Curves In Pink Mini Dress & Rocks Box Braids At Fenty Pop-Up PartyRihanna Shows Off Her Fabulous Curves In Pink Mini Dress & Rocks Box Braids At Fenty Pop-Up Party
News Trends
Queen Elizabeth Wouldnt Allow Prince William and Kate Middleton to Get Divorced, Heres WhyQueen Elizabeth Wouldn't Allow Prince William and Kate Middleton to Get Divorced, Here's Why
Elon Musk Mistook a ‘Blood Moon’ for Mars in New SpaceX TweetElon Musk Mistook a ‘Blood Moon’ for Mars in New SpaceX Tweet
Trump announces hard-hitting new sanctions against IranTrump announces 'hard-hitting' new sanctions against Iran
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott in hospital after strokeFormer deputy prime minister John Prescott in hospital after stroke
Hannah Green holds her nerve and becomes major championHannah Green holds her nerve and becomes major champion
Megan Rapinoe scores two penalty kicks as USA edges Spain to advance to World Cup quarterfinalsMegan Rapinoe scores two penalty kicks as USA edges Spain to advance to World Cup quarterfinals
NASA wants astronauts to go back to the moon in 2024NASA wants astronauts to go back to the moon in 2024
Khloe Kardashian Shows Abs & Struts Into Girls’ Night With BFFs Malika and Khadijah After Shading Jordyn WoodsKhloe Kardashian Shows Abs & Struts Into Girls’ Night With BFFs Malika and Khadijah After Shading Jordyn Woods
Trump: ‘2 weeks and big Deportation begins!’Trump: ‘2 weeks and big Deportation begins!’
Feliciano Lopez makes history as he beats Gilles Simon to win Queen’s as Ash Barty becomes world No. 1Feliciano Lopez makes history as he beats Gilles Simon to win Queen’s as Ash Barty becomes world No. 1
Celebrities
Jay_ZJay-Z
American rapper
Khloe-KardashianKhloé Kardashian
American media personality
Lady-GagaLady Gaga
American singer-songwriter
Jimmy-KimmelJimmy Kimmel
American television host
BeyoncéBeyoncé
American singer-songwriter
Ellen-DeGeneresEllen DeGeneres
American comedian
MadonnaMadonna
American singer-songwriter
Miley-CyrusMiley Cyrus
American singer-songwriter
Oprah-WinfreyOprah Winfrey
American executive
Jennifer-LopezJennifer Lopez
American singer
Related Stories
Rihanna Gets Candid About Marriage, Kids and Boyfriend Hassan JameelRihanna Gets Candid About Marriage, Kids and Boyfriend Hassan Jameel
Cardi B Shows Off Her Incredible Body In Rihanna’s Fenty Lingerie After Being Indicted - Sexy PicCardi B Shows Off Her Incredible Body In Rihanna’s Fenty Lingerie After Being Indicted - Sexy Pic
Rihanna Shows Off Her Fabulous Curves In Pink Mini Dress & Rocks Box Braids At Fenty Pop-Up PartyRihanna Shows Off Her Fabulous Curves In Pink Mini Dress & Rocks Box Braids At Fenty Pop-Up Party
News Trends
Queen Elizabeth Wouldnt Allow Prince William and Kate Middleton to Get Divorced, Heres WhyQueen Elizabeth Wouldn't Allow Prince William and Kate Middleton to Get Divorced, Here's Why
Elon Musk Mistook a ‘Blood Moon’ for Mars in New SpaceX TweetElon Musk Mistook a ‘Blood Moon’ for Mars in New SpaceX Tweet
Trump announces hard-hitting new sanctions against IranTrump announces 'hard-hitting' new sanctions against Iran
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott in hospital after strokeFormer deputy prime minister John Prescott in hospital after stroke
Hannah Green holds her nerve and becomes major championHannah Green holds her nerve and becomes major champion
Megan Rapinoe scores two penalty kicks as USA edges Spain to advance to World Cup quarterfinalsMegan Rapinoe scores two penalty kicks as USA edges Spain to advance to World Cup quarterfinals
NASA wants astronauts to go back to the moon in 2024NASA wants astronauts to go back to the moon in 2024
Khloe Kardashian Shows Abs & Struts Into Girls’ Night With BFFs Malika and Khadijah After Shading Jordyn WoodsKhloe Kardashian Shows Abs & Struts Into Girls’ Night With BFFs Malika and Khadijah After Shading Jordyn Woods
Trump: ‘2 weeks and big Deportation begins!’Trump: ‘2 weeks and big Deportation begins!’
Feliciano Lopez makes history as he beats Gilles Simon to win Queen’s as Ash Barty becomes world No. 1Feliciano Lopez makes history as he beats Gilles Simon to win Queen’s as Ash Barty becomes world No. 1
Celebrities
Jay_ZJay-Z
American rapper
Khloe-KardashianKhloé Kardashian
American media personality
Lady-GagaLady Gaga
American singer-songwriter
Jimmy-KimmelJimmy Kimmel
American television host
BeyoncéBeyoncé
American singer-songwriter
Ellen-DeGeneresEllen DeGeneres
American comedian
MadonnaMadonna
American singer-songwriter
Miley-CyrusMiley Cyrus
American singer-songwriter
Oprah-WinfreyOprah Winfrey
American executive
Jennifer-LopezJennifer Lopez
American singer
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick over sex abuse allegations
Professor Hanington's Speaking of Science: Water on Mars
Is time running out for Julian Assange?
Reports: Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are engaged after two months of dating
Macron RAMPS up pressure on Juncker to reveal MORE about Trump trade deal
Avenatti: Hush money paid before election to 3 more women who claim affairs with Trump
Trevor Noah Fawns Over ‘Great Leader’ Trump In Brutal Takedown
Putin is 'ready' to go to Washington, invites Trump to Moscow
North Korea hands over the possible remains of American war dead
Facebook's wipeout is the biggest in stock market history
CNN reporter banned: Fox joins outcry after exclusion from White House event
WATCH: Colorado residents SHOCKED as destructive flooding crashes through home
Free from Facebook: Study reveals what types of people are fleeing the social network
Khan warmed up to be Pakistan PM by being cricket captain
Mike Pence Says U.S. Will Sanction Turkey Unless American Pastor Freed
Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers reunite to take on James Comey
Explosive detonated outside US embassy in Beijing
Fortnite Birthday Challenges not showing: Epic Games confirm release time for PS4 and Xbox
Demi Lovato 'awake' in hospital after reported drug overdose
Serena Williams hits out at frequency of her anti-doping tests
Trump's 'pay with cash' offer on Cohen tape could spell fresh peril for president
Emmanuel Macron says he takes the blame over Benalla scandal
Maria Butina's lawyer rejects claim she tried to trade sex for a job
Pompeo says US won't recognize Russia's Crimea annexation
Evidence detected of lake beneath the surface of Mars
Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet that it says entered airspace
Ivanka Trump's fashion company is shutting down
'A Terrible Day': Greek Wildfires Kill At Least 74 People, Devastate Resort Village
Tour de France riders accidentally tear-gassed
Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano dies at 56
Macron under pressure to say why aide's brutality went unreported
Taylor Swift Sends Sweet Birthday Cake Wish To Selena Gomez
DONALD TRUMP'S ALL-CAPS IRAN TWEET IS A BIG DEAL
Elon Musk tweets and Tesla's stock tumbles
Mesut Ozil quits German national soccer team, citing 'racism and disrespect'
SpaceX delivers for Telesat with successful early morning launch
Katharine McPhee Shows Off Massive Engagement Ring In Emotional Post
Trump tweets explosive threat to Iran
At least 14 people shot in Toronto and shooter is dead, police say
Mega Millions winning numbers announced for $433M jackpot
Russia tells US to release alleged spy Maria Butina after 'fabricated charges'
The Latest: Woods shoots 66, in contention at British Open
Starting this weekend, SpaceX is about to land a whole lot more rockets
Stephen Colbert Suggests Menu Choices For Putin White House Visit
'Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn Apologize for Old Jokes
Fifty firefighters tackle Edmonton Tower block blaze in North London
Macron security officer in custody and will be fired over violent video
White House invites Putin to Washington for fall meeting
Man with knife attacks bus passengers in Germany, 10 hurt
Launch of NASA's Parker Solar Probe rescheduled for Aug. 6
Russia Says Putin And Trump Discussed Referendum In Ukraine
Missouri duck boat accident among deadliest in nearly 20 years
Trump's ex lawyer taped them discussing payment to ex-Playboy model
Israel launches 'wide-scale attack' against Hamas targets in Gaza
The Latest: Putin says US-Russia summit was successful
Trevor Noah mocks French critic who slammed his joke that Africa won World Cup, not France
Denis Ten, Olympic Skating Medalist, Stabbed to Death in Kazakhstan
Brad Pitt And Leonardo DiCaprio Could Have Been In ‘Brokeback Mountain’
Trump and Putin morph into same person on Time magazine cover
Angela Merkel 'cancels summer walking holiday' for first time in a decade
Trump says Russia no longer targeting US, contradicting intelligence chief
Boris Johnson attacks May's 'miserable' Brexit plan in resignation speech
Katy Perry suffered from 'situational depression' after negative response to 'Witness' album
NASA Takes Over Fenway Park for Space-Mission Show
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook won't ban Holocaust deniers because it wants to give people 'a voice'
David Spade Gets Emotional Remembering Sister-In-Law Kate Spade
Europe hits Google with record fine
Vladimir Putin refuses to touch list of new election meddling indictments as he dismisses 'utterly ridiculous' Russia investigation
Obama to deliver Mandela address in likely rebuke to Trump
Innovating for Mars, and maybe Earth, too
Google Doodle honors physicist Georges Lemaitre's 124th birthday
Amazon Prime Day's Best Xbox One Gaming Deals (US)
Police: Drowning of NHL goalie Ray Emery not suspicious
How Croatia's president won hearts across the globe in World Cup final defeat to France
Putin says he wanted Trump to win in 2016, didn't interfere
Trump throws Putin's soccer ball gift to Melania
Elon Musk calls British diver in Thai cave rescue a 'pedo' in baseless attack
Trump arrives to meet Putin, leaving the UK reeling in his wake
French President Macron has plenty of fun at World Cup final
France beat Croatia to win its second World Cup title
Donald Trump going into Helsinki Putin meeting 'with low expectations'
Archeologists in Egypt find mummification workshop
Protesters in southern Iraq demand better services, jobs
Best streaming service: Netflix vs. Vudu vs. Amazon Prime vs. Hulu
Obama is in Kenya for his sister's project. Then he's off to South Africa
Serena sends message to moms after Wimbledon loss
May: Trump advised me to sue the EU
Mature Serena Williams sees positives in Wimbledon loss
Trump supporters turn out in London a day after protests
No, NASA did not find 'proof of life' on Mars then accidentally destroy it
Emmys: HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Aims to Claim Creative Arts Crown
Belgium records best finish with victory over England
Donald Trump: I didn't criticise PM over Brexit. That is fake news
Stockport shooting: One in hospital, gunman on the run
Tens of thousands of protesters greet Trump in U.K. — along with giant baby balloon
Microsoft says it doesn’t work on ICE facial recognition and calls for regulation
Queen Elizabeth Meets With Trump And Melania
Justin Bieber and Katy Perry among Twitter users hit hardest by follower purge
12 Russians indicted in Mueller investigation
Investigation reopened in brutal slaying of Emmett Till
Antonio Conte sacked by Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri set to replace him
Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon title, 24th Slam overall
NASA May Have Accidentally Destroyed Evidence of Organics on Mars 40 Years Ago
What is Apple's True Tone technology on the 2018 MacBook Pro, and why does it matter?
Trump releases letter from Kim Jong Un, touts 'great progress'
Ariana Grande on why she refuses to 'shut up and sing' and not talk politics
Stormy Daniels arrested at strip club
Trump claims he's popular in the UK over his immigration stance
Cardi B welcomes baby daughter Kulture
Sarah Palin says she was ‘duped’ into doing interview on Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show
Merkel pushes back against Trump’s claim that Germany is ‘totally controlled’ by Russia
Putin and Netanyahu meet for Syria-focused talks in Moscow
Kylie Jenner Covers Forbes As The Next Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever
Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive in Ireland on first international trip
Emmanuel Macron cheers on France at World Cup semi-final against Belgium
All 12 boys, coach rescued from Thai cave, ending gruelling 18-day ordeal
France beat Belgium's 'golden generation' to reach World Cup final
Real Madrid agrees Ronaldo transfer deal
Thailand cave rescue: EIGHTH BOY carried out on stretcher as operation HALTED - 4 inside
Barcelona tourist bus STORMED by protesters as they launch summer of CHAOS
Prince Louis christening: George and Charlotte seen with brother for first time
Boris Johnson's letter of resignation: 'The Brexit dream is dying'
Robin Wright breaks silence on Kevin Spacey
Jordan Pickford: 'I wasn't born' for England's last World Cup semifinal
'DO YOUR JOB' Sadiq Khan ‘should be ashamed over Trump balloon insult’ warns Giuliani
4 are out; 9 to go: Captivated world watches Thailand cave rescue
Justin Bieber reportedly engaged to Hailey Baldwin
Turkey train derailment kills at least 10, injures 73
Spiders Use Electricity To Fly For Miles Without Wings
Giuliani 'comfortable' about possibility of Cohen flipping
Tyler Honeycutt, former UCLA and Sacramento Kings basketball player, dies after standoff with police
Croatia book World Cup semi-final with England after penalty shootout win
38 dead, nearly 50 reported missing as heavy rain hits Japan
Elon Musk's Team Due in Thailand to Help Rescue Soccer Team Trapped in Flooded Cave
Women's top seed Simona Halep suffers shock defeat at Wimbledon
England beats Sweden to reach first World Cup semifinal since 1990
World's smallest living dog, 'Miracle Milly', cloned 49 times in South Korea laboratory
Brazil knocked out of World Cup by Kevin De Bruyne and brilliant Belgium
President Trump, Melania to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle during UK visit
It Sounds Like Meghan Markle Has A Slight British Accent Now
Trump Mocks ‘Me Too Generation’ At Rally
Former MSNBC Host Ed Schultz Dies at 64
Donald Trump to be met by protests at each stage of UK visit
NHS hailed as 'unifying ideal' on 70th anniversary
Firework explosions near Mexico City kills 19 people, injures dozens, officials say
EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid ethics scandals
Dozens missing after boats capsize in Thailand
Brexit nightmare coming true for businesses
Three charged with kidnapping actress, holding man naked for 30 hours in Los Angeles
Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti teases potential 2020 run against Trump
Seth Meyers Mocks Trump's Knowledge of Independence Day in 'Late Night' Spoof
Forty-nine percent of voters said Trump is racist in a new poll
US and Russian officials hold 'frank' talks before Trump-Putin summit
Queen invites King and Queen of Netherlands for state visit – but Meghan is not invited
Today's talker: Melania Trump is making money as first lady ... bless her heart
TV Ratings: 'The Bachelorette' Softens at Start of July 4th Week
NASA to test 'quiet' supersonic flights
First confirmed image of a newborn planet revealed
Michael Cohen hints at flipping and says 'first loyalty' is to family – not Trump
Justin Trudeau 'does not remember' groping reporter at festival
Harvey Weinstein faces three new sexual misconduct charges
Mars Is the Closest to Earth Since 2003 This Month (There's a Long Blood Moon Eclipse, Too)!
Serena Williams wins first Wimbledon match as a mom
Neymar breaks Mexican hearts
Missing Thai soccer team found alive in cave after nine days
Portraits of Royal Family NEVER SEEN BEFORE finally revealed
LeBron James agrees to 4-year, $154 million deal with Los Angeles Lakers
Key Merkel ally offers to resign over migration policy
Video of mom seeing baby hear for first time goes viral
OnePlus 6 Red is coming to the US in July
Michelle Wolf Urges People To Heckle Ivanka Trump In A Very Specific Way
Leftist Lopez Obrador wins landslide victory in Mexico election
Google doodle: Who was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz? What does the doodle mean?
Verstappen wins Austrian GP as Hamilton fails to finish
Serena Williams questions frequency of her drug tests
Mysterious 'Oumuamua' space object has finally been identified
French convict escapes prison again -- this time with a hijacked helicopter
Russia knocks out Spain in penalty shootout
Operation UFO: Britain's race to beat Russia to alien weapons REVEALED in secret files
Rocket bursts into flames in Japan after second failed launch
Meet the 4 candidates vying to become Mexico's president
Trump Pressures Saudi Arabia to Increase Oil Production
9 injured in mass stabbing at Idaho apartment complex
Iran protest turns violent; at least 1 death reported
French protest Macron's new reduced speed limits
US ambassador to Estonia resigns over Trump policies and provocations
Ex-NASA scientist says aliens exist but encounters are covered up by governments
Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup ends as Uruguay beats Portugal
Reporter resigns after false tweet that Maryland shooting suspect had MAGA hat
North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say US officials
7 days in the dark: How the Thailand cave search unfolded
Comcast is experiencing a nationwide outage
Serena Williams and baby Alexis inspect Wimbledon's childcare arrangement before going back to work
See the 'Space Jellyfish' and Other Jaw-Dropping Views from SpaceX's Dragon Launch
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Breaks Down Viral Reaction to Democratic Primary Win
Trump Responds To Annapolis Shooting
Susan Sarandon Arrested Protesting Trump’s Immigration Policy
Michael Moore Reveals Release Date for His Anti-Trump Doc
FREXIT? Donald Trump 'told Macron to pull France out of EU in return for US trade deal'
Pence tells Central American leaders that illegal immigration to U.S. ‘must end’
Close