Speed Art Museum Acquires Bob Thompson Painting, a Self-Portrait of a Louisville Native


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Bob Thompson, 1964 | Smithsonian Archives of American Art

1960 WAS A PIVOTAL YEAR for Bob Thompson (1937-1966). He had his initial solo muster during a Delancey Street Museum on a Lower East Side of Manhattan. The same year, he done a singular self-portrait, depicting himself in his Clinton Street studio surrounded by his paintings, a camber of drums, and shelves of books.

The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., announced a squeeze of “Self Portrait in a Studio.” The 1960 work is a museum’s initial oil portrayal by Thompson, a Louisville native. According a a museum, a picture captures a artist within dual years of vacating his hometown. He spent a summer in Provincetown, Mass., before streamer to New York.

“The merger of a vital Bob Thompson portrayal has been a idea of a Speed Art Museum for years,” Miranda Lash, curator of Contemporary Art during a Speed Art Museum, pronounced in a statement. “Thompson, along with a good Sam Gilliam, is one of Louisville’s many critical artists. Both artists emerged out of segregated Louisville in a late 1950s and early 1960s and went on to renovate a bargain of contemporary portrayal in opposite ways. Thompson’s Self Portrait provides a singular glance into a temperament of an artist who came from Kentucky and went on to emanate a dash in a New York art universe during a remarkably immature age.”

“The merger of a vital Bob Thompson portrayal has been a idea of a Speed Art Museum for years. …Thompson’s Self Portrait provides a singular glance into a temperament of an artist who came from Kentucky and went on to emanate a dash in a New York art universe during a remarkably immature age.”
— Curator Miranda Lash


BOB THOMPSON (American, 1937-1966), “Self-Portrait in a Studio,” 1966 (oil on board, 40 x 30 inches). | Museum Purchase with Alice Speed Stoll Accessions Fund and supports easily donated by Ambassador Matthew Barzun and Brooke Brown Barzun, Greg Brown and Scott Rogers, John S. and Mary Moss Greenebaum, and Alfred Shands

Thompson attended Central High School in Louisville. After giving adult on his pre-med module during Boston University after one year, he eliminated to a University of Louisville Hite Art Institute, where he attended from 1957 to 1958. (The University of Louisville is also a alma mater of Sam Gilliam, who was innate in Tupelo, Miss.) The university expertise enclosed a series of German artists whose gusto for expressionism heavily shabby Thompson, who in spin grown his possess graphic style, a bold, vibrant, romantic form of account portrayal that bridged incongruous expressionism and epitome expressionism.

Following his lass outing, many some-more solo shows followed during critical blurb venues including Martha Jackson Gallery and Paula Cooper Gallery, both in New York, and Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago. In 1964, he was also featured in a “Seven Young Painters” muster during Yale University. He went to Paris afterwards Rome in 1966 and compulsory gall bladder surgery. He dedicated himself to his use for 8 years before failing months after a procession during a young age of 29.

“His genocide during twntey-nine seemed to many untimely, although, given his fast-paced lifestyle and heroin addiction, eventually unavoidable. Thompson’s celebrity developed from his art and his persona, both can be described as ardent, irrepressible, larger-than-life. He was like a force of nature—sweeping in, afterwards unconditional out, withdrawal an memorable memory on all who encountered him,” Thelma Golden wrote in a catalog that accompanied a 1998 retrospective of Bob Thompson during a Whitney Museum of American Art. She combined that a power of his celebrity was reflected in his art.

“Thompson’s celebrity developed from his art and his persona, both can be described as ardent, irrepressible, larger-than-life. He was like a force of nature—sweeping in, afterwards unconditional out, withdrawal an memorable memory on all who encountered him.” — Thelma Golden

Given his early death, a self-portrait is quite poignant and symbolic. “Seated, eyes closed, in a impulse of stillness, a portrayal evokes a clarity of waste and contemplation,” explained Lash. “Alone in a studio, he contemplates his work and his practice.” The museum owns one other work by Thompson—”Untitled (Yellow Nude),” a 1961 watercolor.

As a name organisation of critical African American artists active in a 20th century continues to accept long-delayed approval by a mainstream art world, Thompson is among a organisation that is being embraced and distinguished by their hometowns. Local communities are preserving a legacies of black artists by acquisitions, exhibitions, investigate and educational programming, and ancestral markers. Like Romare Bearden in Charlotte, N.C., Beauford Delaney in Knoxville, Tenn., William H. Johnson in Florence, S.C., and Alma Thomas in Columbus, Ga., Louisville is proudly laying explain to Thompson by a initial vital merger of his work.

“Bob Thompson was an bomb force in a art universe during his tragically brief life, nonetheless he stays distant improved famous in New York than in his possess hometown” Stephen Reily, executive of a Speed Art Museum, pronounced in a statement. “We are gay to start reversing that history, generally with a self-portrait that reminds us all that a immature child from West Louisville can strech a top levels of artistic celebrity and appreciation.” CT

TOP IMAGE: Bob Thompson in his New York studio during 6 Rivington Street. | Bob Thompson Papers, Smithsonian Archives of American Art

BOOKSHELF
“Bob Thompson” accompanied a retrospective of a artist during a Whitney Museum in 1998. The volume’s foreword notes, “the initial vital consult of Thompson’s work in 20 years, provides an event to applaud a brief though heated career of an artist who managed to emanate over a thousand works in a brief camber of 7 years. The entirely illustrated catalog includes essays by Thelma Golden and Judith Wilson.

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