Bob Thompson: Symbolic Expressions

Two paintings from 1964 by Bob Thompson are going up on the auction block on October 9, 2011 as part of The Collection of Richard Dorso.

During his brief yet prolific career, Bob Thompson (1937-1966) became one of the first African-American painters to be embraced by the art market. The sudden death of Thompson in 1966 introduced a void in the critical appreciation of African-American artists that didn’t end until the emergence of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Thompson was a devoted student of the classical masters and sought to reinvigorate their themes for a contemporary audience through his use of bold colors and narrative warmth. In 1959, after completing his studies in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson moved to New York’s Lower East Side where he immersed himself in the burgeoning jazz and arts scene. His work gained immediate attention at the Delancey Street Museum and two years later he was granted a Whitney Foundation fellowship to paint in London and Paris where he was finally able to study the old masters firsthand. After traveling and living with his wife in Ibiza, Spain, Thompson returned to New York City to exhibit his work at a number of galleries and museums, including the Paula Cooper Gallery, the Martha Johnson Gallery, the Whitney Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1966, eager to continue his lifelong study of the mythological themes that illuminate his paintings, Thompson and his wife traveled to Rome where his continued drug use during his recovery from gall bladder surgery resulted in his death.

– Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer

Lot Information

Lot 49
Bob (Robert Louis) Thompson  
Venus & Adonis  
Oil on canvas  
Signed “BThompson”, dated, titled verso
Canvas: 10″ x 8″; Frame: 11″ x 9″  
Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 50
Bob (Robert Louis) Thompson  
Mythological scene    
Acrylic on paper  
Signed and dated lower left  
Image: 10.75″ x 10.125″; Frame: 16.5″ x 15.5″  
Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

“Bob Thompson (1937-1966).” Hollis Taggert Galleries, 2011. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.

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