Hank Willis Thomas Show Captures Art of Protest

With his new show, conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas asks a simple question: Would you stand up for what you believe in?
Artist Hank Willis Thomas. His show is up at Jack Shainman's two Chelsea galleries in New York and runs through May 12. It features 15 works based on photographs of 20th century protest movements around the world.
CUL_Art_Thomas_03_PR Source: Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts/Levi Mandel

Hank Willis Thomas came across the photo in 2014. The artist, whose work deals with identity, history and popular culture, often employs vintage images in his art. This one, taken in 1936, is of a crowd of Germans in a Homberg shipyard. Adolf Hitler has arrived to christen a ship, and as thousands “Seig Heil” the führer, one man stands, arms folded, a solitary figure of defiance in a sea of complicity.

Willis learned the man’s name, August Landmesser, and

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