Bob Thompson’s Improvisations

J. Hoberman at The Point:

However reductive it may be to call the painter Bob Thompson the Jean-Michel Basquiat of the 1960s, the comparison is inescapable.

Thompson is the subject of the current retrospective, “This House Is Mine,” at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, and like Basquiat he was a Black artist who quickly developed a recognizable signature style that blossomed in a gritty, mainly white, Lower Manhattan bohemia. Like Basquiat, Thompson was deeply into music and drawn to musicians. And like Basquiat, Thompson died young, leaving a body of work by turns cryptic and accessible. Basquiat was an art-world phenom anointed by Andy Warhol, and so prolific that he was thought to be suffering from burnout when he overdosed on heroin at 27. Thompson, although never as celebrated, was also a hot young artist—his last one-man show in New York broke attendance records at the Martha Jackson Gallery, then a vanguard uptown venue—and then, just short of 29, he died from an overdose in Rome in 1966.

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