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Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine

July 1, 2022 | Michael Rooks

On view through September 11

A colorful painting showing figures in various poses in a garden, with a central figure playing a musical instrument.

Bob Thompson (American, 1937–1966), Homage to Nina Simone, 1965, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Art, The John R. Van Derlip Fund. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Taking its title from one of his paintings, Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine traces the transatlantic career of African American artist Bob Thompson (1937–1966) as he wrestled with the exclusionary Western canon. The Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1998 Thompson retrospective raised awareness of the artist, and his presence in recent exhibitions such as Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power attests to the continued relevance of his work. Featuring paintings and works on paper from Thompson’s brief but prolific career, the exhibition offers the fullest consideration of the artist to date. Born in Kentucky in 1937, Thompson studied art at the University of Louisville and then continued his training in Provincetown, Massachusetts. There he intensified his analysis of historical European painting, using it as the scaffolding for painterly reinterpretations executed in the chromatic style of Fauvism. Thompson’s rise coincided with the emergence of the American civil rights movement, yet he spent his final years as an expatriate in Europe. Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine is a timely overview examining how legacies of dispossession, exile, and diaspora shape aesthetic innovation.

Exhibition catalogue available for purchase at the Museum Shop and at Members receive 10% off Shop purchases.


Studio Sessions: Expressive Figuration in Painting
Tuesday, August 30, and Wednesday, August 31, 1:30–3:30 p.m.
Members: $20 | Not-Yet-Members: $30

During this workshop, we will draw inspiration from personal narratives—memories, stories, and dreams—to produce expressive abstract paintings with an emphasis on the figure. Looking to Bob Thompson’s highly personal and symbolic visual vocabulary as inspiration, we’ll develop our own iconography while examining the elements of art such as color, form, and composition. Studio Sessions are designed for adults, but all ages are welcome. Materials will be provided. No prior experience is necessary. For more information, please email or call 404-733-5034.

Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine is organized by the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, and is generously supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, the Alex Katz Foundation, Richard and Mary L. Gray Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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