The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood
Chicago, IL 60637
Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine
February 15–May 15, 2022
First major survey of Bob Thompson’s work in more than 20 years travels to Chicago Acclaimed exhibition is organized by the Colby College Museum of Art
The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art presents Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine, the first museum exhibition dedicated to this visionary painter in more than twenty years. Organized by the Colby College Museum of Art, where it debuted in summer 2021, the exhibition features more than 85 paintings and works on paper. This House Is Mine centers Bob Thompson’s brief but prolific transatlantic career within expansive art historical narratives and ongoing dialogues about the politics of representation, charting his enduring influence.
This House Is Mine borrows its name from a diminutive but exquisite painting created by Thompson in 1960. With this title, Thompson declared his ambition to synthesize a new visual language out of elements of historic European painting. The exhibition examines both his formal inventiveness and his engagement with universal themes such as collectivity, freedom, bearing witness, struggle, justice and music.
“Thompson’s career offers tremendous insight into the aesthetic possibilities available to post-war artists. Faced with the expectation that he, like other Black artists of that era, commit to socially illustrative representation, Thompson instead honed a brilliant and complex figurative style,” notes exhibition curator Diana Tuite, who organized the exhibition while at the Colby College Museum of Art. “He brings into relief the unnatural, ideologically constructed, violent—even absurd—conventions underlying canonical Western art, prompting us to see those paintings with fresh eyes, and to examine the exclusion—or conditional inclusion—of artists like himself in certain narratives. This House Is Mine highlights the incredible ambition and range of Thompson’s work and establishes important connections to historic genealogies, contemporaries, and new generations of artists continuing to press the possibilities of figuration. Artists have always been looking at Bob Thompson.”
The exhibition includes work from almost 50 public and private collections across the United States and is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue featuring contributions from scholars, artists, and poets, published in association with Yale University Press. Following the presentation at the Smart Museum, the exhibition next travels to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (June 18–September 11, 2022) and Hammer Museum at UCLA (October 9, 2022–January 8, 2023).
Bob Thompson, Blue Madonna, 1961. Oil on canvas. 51 1/2 × 74 3/4 in. (130.8 × 189.9 cm). The Detroit Institute of Arts. Gift of Edward Levine in memory of Bob Thompson. © Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York. Photo: The Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Bridgeman Images