Minneapolis-based artist Michael Thomsen is known for his ornate assemblage works that compile items sourced from thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets and more. Citing secret societies, symbology, Americana and Baroque as major influences, Thomsen’s works are lush, exploratory worlds where the old and discarded becomes something new and mysterious. In addition to assemblage sculpture, Thomsen is a filmmaker and musician. We chatted with the artist about his influences, his recent film and what he’s got coming up.
How would you describe your style?
I suppose I would classify my style as Baroque meets Americana meets Pop Surrealism. The simplest way to put it is that I take nostalgic objects that one may find in their grandmother’s attic or a thrift store and assemble them into decadent, ornate works of art. I like to think that I’m creating narrative vignettes that speak on many different levels, visually and emotionally.
What are your influences?
As far as other artists, I draw inspiration from masters such as Carvaggio and Bernini, as well as modernists like Ivan Albright. I’m a big fan of the Baroque and Rococo movements.
Do you do custom commissions?
Yes, I have done commissions for both commercial and private clients. I recently created a donation receptacle for a non-profit theater and music venue, The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. I also did a custom display box for an Irish whiskey company called 2 Gingers, which traveled to numerous locations for special events and tastings. Just this week I finished a private commission of a custom jewelry box, a birthday gift for a patron’s girlfriend.
You just completed a short film, can you tell us a bit about it?
I’ve been working on a short film called CENTO for the past few years on and off. It’s basically an abstract art documentary chronicling my work, sewing together an experience that begins at first light and languidly moves through dusk into night. I did all the cinematography and direction and also created the original score. It’s currently being shopped out to film festivals in the US and internationally. The Latin origin of the word Cento means “a patchwork garment” and the film itself is definitely that–it’s a series of scenes patched together to create a cohesive whole. I premiered the film at Public Functionary Gallery in June and it had a great reception.
What do you have coming up?
I recently participated in group exhibits at Alexi Era Gallery in St. Louis, MO and at Parlor Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ. I am working on submitting my film, CENTO to a number of different film festivals as well. My major project this year is creating a new body of work for a large-scale solo exhibition at Minneapolis, MN contemporary art space, Public Functionary. The exhibit revolves around secret societies and their symbology and will include massive installations that viewers can interact with and explore.