Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine
Oct 11, 2022 – Jan 8, 2023

Bob Thompson, LeRoi Jones and his Family, 1964. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Cathy Carver. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Bob Thompson (1937–1966) earned critical acclaim in the late 1950s for his paintings of figurative complexity and chromatic intensity. Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine offers a rich reconsideration of a visionary African American painter and borrows its name from a diminutive but exquisite painting created by the artist in 1960. With this title, Thompson declared his ambition to synthesize a new visual language out of elements of historic European painting.

 

Bob Thompson, Untitled (Perseus and Andromeda), 1964. Private collection. Courtesy of Donald Morris Gallery. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Jerry L. Thompson / Art Resource, New York

Bob Thompson, Blue Madonna, 1961. The Detroit Institute of Arts. Gift of Edward Levine in memory of Bob Thompson. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo The Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Bridgeman Images

Bob Thompson, The Funeral of Jan Müller, 1958. Myron Kunin Collection of American Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

Bob Thompson, Untitled, 1962. Colby College Museum of Art. Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Luc Demers

Bob Thompson, This House Is Mine, 1960. Collection of Robin and Gary Jacobs. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Elon Schoenholz

Bob Thompson, The Judgement, 1963. Brooklyn Museum, New York. A. Augustus Healy Fund. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

The first museum exhibition devoted to the artist in more than 20 years, This House Is Mine traces Thompson’s brief but prolific transatlantic career, examining his formal inventiveness and his engagement with universal themes of collectivity, bearing witness, struggle, and justice. Over a mere eight years, he grappled with the exclusionary Western canon, developing a lexicon of enigmatic forms that he threaded through his work. Human and animal figures, often silhouetted and relatively featureless, populate mysterious vignettes set in wooded landscapes or haunt theatrically compressed spaces. Thompson reconfigures well-known compositions by European artists such as Piero della Francesca and Francisco Goya through brilliant acts of formal distortion and elision, recasting the scenes in sumptuous colors. On occasion, fellow contemporaries appear, for instance jazz greats Nina Simone and Ornette Coleman and the writers LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) and Allen Ginsberg.

 

Bob Thompson, The Judgement of Paris, 1964. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Art. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute / Art Resource, New York

Bob Thompson, Bird Party, 1961. Collection of the Rhythm Trust. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

Bob Thompson, The Drying After, 1961. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph R. Shapiro. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, New York

Bob Thompson, The Circus, 1963. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

Bob Thompson, Stairway to the Stars, ca. 1962. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

Bob Thompson, Woman with Flower, 1959. Myron Kunin Collection of American Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

Bringing together paintings and works on paper from almost 50 public and private collections across the United States, This House Is Mine centers Thompson’s work within expansive art historical narratives and ongoing dialogues about the politics of representation, charting his enduring influence.

Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine is organized by the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, and curated by Diana Tuite, Visiting Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Stanley Museum of Art. The presentation at the Hammer Museum is organized by Erin Christovale, curator, with Vanessa Arizmendi, curatorial associate.

 

Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine
October 11, 2022 – January 8, 2023 / Hammer Museum
Visit the exhibition page >

Previous Engagements:
July 10, 2021 – January 9, 2022 / Colby College Museum of Art
February 10 – May 15, 2022 / Smart Museum of Art
June 18 – September 11, 2022 / High Museum of Art

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