November 17, 2020 12:00 EST

Modern & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 9
 

9

Bob Thompson (American, 1937-1966)
Untitled

Pencil signed and dated 62 bottom left, gouache on paper.
21 1/4 x 18 in. (54 x 45.7cm)

Provenance: The Artist.
Dorothy Levitt Beskind, New York, New York (acquired directly from the above).
The Estate of Dorothy Levitt Beskind, New York, New York.

NOTE:
In a career spanning just eight years of full-time painting, Bob Thompson created over one thousand works and reached a prominence only few African-American artists of his generation achieved within the mainstream New York art world. Known for his large, allegorical paintings, Thompson mined his art historical knowledge and his close study of classical old masters like Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and Goya for powerful imagery that he engaged in his deeply personal expression. He studied art at the University of Louisville, spending a summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts at the suggestion of his professor Mary Spencer Nay, where he forged important connections with Red Grooms and other artists. These friendships later gained him access at New York galleries, including those of Martha Jackson and Paula Cooper, which led to his rapid recognition and success in the New York art world of the 1960s.

Martha Jackson in turn introduced Thompson to Dorothy Levitt Beskind, a prolific collector and artist in her own right, who began a project of documenting the daily lives of prominent New York artists in film, dedicating her first installment to Thompson in 1965. She also photographed the artist in the garden of the Martha Jackson Gallery, casually gazing out from under his fedora. The gouache she acquired from the artist, presented here, encapsulates Thompson's project, incorporating fantastical creatures, bird-human hybrids playing out a dramatic scene while a Goya-inspired winged figure engages the viewer directly from below. The artist's use of bird imagery harkened back to a dream where birds "swept everything up, including me," [1] and contributed to his personal mythological stories of power and freedom.

[1] "Bob Thompson: Important Works in New York Collections," New York: Martha Jackson Gallery, 1968 quoted in Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990, p. 173.

Sold for $35,000
Estimated at $12,000 - $18,000


 

Pencil signed and dated 62 bottom left, gouache on paper.
21 1/4 x 18 in. (54 x 45.7cm)

Provenance: The Artist.
Dorothy Levitt Beskind, New York, New York (acquired directly from the above).
The Estate of Dorothy Levitt Beskind, New York, New York.

NOTE:
In a career spanning just eight years of full-time painting, Bob Thompson created over one thousand works and reached a prominence only few African-American artists of his generation achieved within the mainstream New York art world. Known for his large, allegorical paintings, Thompson mined his art historical knowledge and his close study of classical old masters like Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and Goya for powerful imagery that he engaged in his deeply personal expression. He studied art at the University of Louisville, spending a summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts at the suggestion of his professor Mary Spencer Nay, where he forged important connections with Red Grooms and other artists. These friendships later gained him access at New York galleries, including those of Martha Jackson and Paula Cooper, which led to his rapid recognition and success in the New York art world of the 1960s.

Martha Jackson in turn introduced Thompson to Dorothy Levitt Beskind, a prolific collector and artist in her own right, who began a project of documenting the daily lives of prominent New York artists in film, dedicating her first installment to Thompson in 1965. She also photographed the artist in the garden of the Martha Jackson Gallery, casually gazing out from under his fedora. The gouache she acquired from the artist, presented here, encapsulates Thompson's project, incorporating fantastical creatures, bird-human hybrids playing out a dramatic scene while a Goya-inspired winged figure engages the viewer directly from below. The artist's use of bird imagery harkened back to a dream where birds "swept everything up, including me," [1] and contributed to his personal mythological stories of power and freedom.

[1] "Bob Thompson: Important Works in New York Collections," New York: Martha Jackson Gallery, 1968 quoted in Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990, p. 173.

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