October 11, 2022–January 8, 2023
Helen Molesworth walk-through: October 30, 2022
Spinning, Spinning, Turning, Directing: November 6, 2022,Kellie Jones, Ashon Crawley, and Erin Christovale discuss the themes in Bob Thompson’s work
Taylor Renee Aldridge walk-through: December 4, 2022
The visionary African American painter Bob Thompson’s first comprehensive review of his output in more than twenty years is currently on display at the Hammer Museum at UCLA. Bob Thompson (1937–1966), a Kentucky native, won praise from critics for his paintings’ complex figurative compositions and vibrant color schemes. This House Is Mine features more than 50 paintings and works on paper from close to 40 public and private collections across the United States, offering a rich reappraisal of the artist’s brief but prolific transatlantic career. The nationwide traveling show, organized by the Colby College Museum of Art, will end in Los Angeles and be on display from October 11, 2022, until January 8, 2023.
Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin shares, “Bob Thompson’s striking aesthetic makes his paintings unforgettable. His bold figures and landscapes have influenced contemporary artists like Rashid Johnson, Henry Taylor, and Alex Katz, all of whom contributed to the exhibition catalogue. We’re thrilled that Los Angeles is part of this national tour, and that audiences across the country are being reintroduced to this important artist.”
This House Is Mine explores Thompson’s formal innovation as well as his involvement with subjects that are relevant to everyone, such as collective action, bearing witness, conflict, and justice. In just eight years, he struggled with the exclusive Western canon, creating a vocabulary of enigmatic forms that he woven into his writing. Theatrically compacted environments or enigmatic miniatures located in forested settings are frequently populated by human and animal characters that are frequently silhouetted and have few distinguishing features. Through masterful formal distortion and elision, Thompson reconfigures well-known works by European artists like Piero della Francesca and Francisco Goya, recasting the settings in opulent hues. The jazz greats Nina Simone and Ornette Coleman, as well as the authors LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) and Allen Ginsberg, occasionally perform with other members of their generation.
The name of the exhibition is taken from a small yet lovely picture that the artist made in 1960. With this title, Thompson made clear his desire to combine elements of classical European painting to create a new visual language. This House Is Mine places Thompson’s work at the heart of extensive narratives about the history of art and continuing discussions about the politics of representation, demonstrating his enduring influence.
After starting at Colby College in Maine, the display traveled across the nation, including stops at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue co-published by the Colby College Museum of Art and Yale University Press. Edited by exhibition curator Diana Tuite, the catalogue features contributions from scholars, artists, and poets, including Kraig Blue, Adrienne L. Childs, Bridget R. Cooks, Robert Cozzolino, Crystal N. Feimster, Jacqueline Francis, Rashid Johnson, LeRoi Jones, Adjoa Jones de Almeida, Alex Katz, Mónica Mariño, George Nelson Preston, Lowery Stokes Sims, A. B. Spellman, Henry Taylor, and Diana Tuite.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs, including exhibition walk-throughs, a panel conversation about Bob Thompson, and an 826LA writing workshop for kids. Check hammer.ucla.edu for full schedule to be announced closer to the exhibition opening date.
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