During the 1960s Alma Thomas emerged as an exuberant colorist, abstracting shapes and patterns inspired by the natural world. Her new palette and technique—considerably lighter and looser than in her earlier representational works and dark abstractions—reflected her long study of color theory and the watercolor medium. Celestial Fantasy is a gentle view of the heavens. Broken strokes of soft color, a hallmark of her mature style, are arrayed in vertical bands. Their irregular intervals create a visual rhythm akin to music. Thomas frequently talked about "watching the leaves and flowers tossing in the wind as though they were singing and dancing." As a black woman artist, Thomas encountered many barriers; she did not, however, turn to racial or feminist issues in her art, believing rather that the creative spirit is independent of race or gender. Instead she explored the power of color and form in luminous, contemplative paintings.


  • Title: Celestial Fantasy
  • Creator: Alma Thomas
  • Date Created: 1973
  • Physical Dimensions: 60 x 54 in. (152.4 x 137.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of the artist
  • Artist: Born Columbus, GA 1891 – Died Washington, D.C. 1978
  • Medium: acrylic on canvas

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