Gandy Brodie Bob Thompson

The Ecstasy of Influence February 1 - February 28, 2011

Gandy Brodie and Bob Thompson both spent the summer of 1958 in Provincetown, Massachusetts, amidst a community of other artists that included Mimi Gross, Red Grooms, Jay Milder, Wolf Kahn, Emilio Cruz, Lester Johnson, Anne Tabachnick, Dody Müller and Christopher Lane.

Art historian Judith Wilson has characterized that Provincetown summer as exemplifying an “ecstasy of influence”: the influences of contemporary figurative painters on Thompson’s work. She wrote about this community in the 1998 Whitney Museum exhibition catalogue for Thompson’s retrospective. Despite the fact that they never met, Jan Müller who died in January of 1958 was unquestionably a significant influence on the developing Bob Thompson. However, the influences of other members of this community on Thompson have been less explored. Wilson touches on this as she quotes a mutual friend of Brodie and Thompson, the painter Emilio Cruz. Cruz has stated that Thompson painted “his first figurative paintings” in response to the influence of Gandy Brodie.

In her Whitney essay, Wilson notes that “The gray-brown palette, division of the canvas into large rectangles of contrasting light and dark tones, and the masklike treatment of faces, as in Brodie’s “The Penetration of a Thought”, 1958 and Thompson’s “Differences”, 1958, seems to bear this out.”

This exhibition includes both “The Penetration of a Thought”, 1958 by Brodie and Thompson’s “Differences”, 1958, among 12 paintings all from the period between 1958 and 1964?, exploring this influence and relationship between these two important post-war figurative painters. This exhibition is the second in an ongoing series of exhibitions entitled “Pairings” that juxtapose the work of artists of related interest. It is co-produced by SHFAP and Martha Henry, Inc., Fine Art.

About Gandy Brodie:
Born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Brodie was essentially a self-taught painter (though he was welcomed by Hans Hofmann to Friday night criticism sessions at his school). Initially inspired to become an artist by seeing Van Gogh, Picasso and Klee at MOMA, he rose to prominence in the mid-1950s when he was included in a number of important group exhibitions at Kootz Gallery and the Stable Gallery. Thomas Hess included Brodie’s work in his seminal 1956 article on the second generation of the New York School. Brodie’s most important critical supporter was Meyer Schapiro who praised him as “one of the best painters of his generation.” Brodie started his own Gandy Brodie School of Art in Vermont. He passed away prematurely in 1975. Brodie’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art among others.

About Bob Thompson:
Bob Thompson was born in Louisville, KY in 1937. After studying at university Thompson traveled east, arriving in Provincetown’s vibrant artists’ colony during the pivotal summer of 1958. There he was introduced to artists who would influence him to paint figuratively and inspire him toward his mature style. Awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1962, Thompson traveled to Europe where he lived and worked for many years until he died tragically young in 1966. During his lifetime he had solo shows at Martha Jackson Gallery in New York and Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago. In 1998, the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted a major retrospective and published a book on the artist. Thompson’s work is in the collections of many important museums including the Brooklyn Museum of Art; Chicago Art Institute; Detroit Institute of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Minneapolis Institute of Art; and National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.