Bob THOMPSON (1937-1966)

Oil on masonite
Signed and dated lower right “R. Thompson ’58”
17 3/4 x 36 in. / 45 x 91,5 cm.

Provenance: Private Collection, New York.

Suppose that Basquiat had been a smash and Hollywood wanted a follow-up. There’d be Bob Thompson the movie. And they wouldn’t have to make up a thing: young black hipster painter pals with legendary jazz musicians, lives high, wanders through Europe, shows with legendary New York gallery (Martha Jackson), lives high, dies horribly early, at twenty-nine, in 1966. If he hadn’t existed, as was said of Pollock, Time-Life would have had to invent him. Given the mythifying circumstances, we’re way overdue another look at Thompson’s actual work, to which Meyer Schapiro, no less, ascribed a “rhapsodical hotness.” And how many artists get written about by both Schapiro and Jackie McLean?

(David Frankel, Art Forum Sep. 1998, for the Bob Thompson exhibition at the Whitney Museum.)