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Bob Thompson (1937-1966)


1 of 9

Untitled, 1959
oil on canvas
49" x 35 1/2", signed and dated

Stairway to the Stars, c.1962
oil and photostat on Masonite
40" x 60", signed

The Ascension, 1963
oil on canvas
17" x 13", signed and dated

The Circus, 1963
oil on canvas
36 3/8" x 36 3/8", signed and dated

The Struggle, 1963
oil on canvas
58 x 78 inches, signed and dated

Tribute to an American Indian, 1963
oil on canvas
63 1/8" x 86 3/4", signed and dated

Untitled (Michelangelo's Fall of Phaeton), 1963
gouache on paper (page from art catalogue)
12 1/8" x 8 3/4", signed and dated

La Caprice, c.1963
oil on canvas
62" x 51 3/4", signed

Apollo and Daphne, c.1964
oil on printed paper mounted on board
10 5/8" x 10 7/8"


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Artist Information

“My aim is to project images that seem vital to me...images...that seem to have meaning in terms of feeling.”[1]

“I think painting should be…like the theatre…painters in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance…were employed to educate the people...they could walk into a cathedral, look at the wall, and see what was happening…I am not specifically trying to do that…but, in a certain way, I am trying to show what’s happening, what’s going on…in my own private way.”[2]

Recognized for the vibrancy of the numerous paintings he created in his brief life, Robert Louis (Bob) Thompson was born in 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky to middle-class parents who owned a small restaurant. When Thompson was less than a year old, his family moved to Elizabethtown, where his father opened a dry cleaning business. The move took the family away from “the close-knit social matrices of the urban black bourgeoisie,”[3] and Thompson’s father strongly discouraged his children from associating with the lower-income black children around them. As a result, Thompson and his sisters spent much of their childhood without close friends. Thompson grew up very close to his father and was devastated when he was killed suddenly in a car accident when the artist was thirteen. Soon after, Thompson contracted mumps, which led to encephalitis, which in turn put him in a coma for three days. Although he recovered, Thompson was left with severe headaches for several years afterwards. Thompson’s parents believed strongly in the value of education and expected their children to go to college. In 1950, Thompson moved back to Louisville to live with his sister Cecile and her husband, Robert Holmes, who worked as a cartographer. Thompson had felt at ease with Holmes, an artist, since meeting him at the age of nine, and when he was younger, Thompson would often bring him drawings he had created. Louisville was a segregated city, and Thompson attended an academically rigorous, all-black high school that included African American history in its curriculum. He graduated in 1955 and enrolled in Boston University, living in Cambridge with his sister Phyllis, her husband, and their baby. Thompson intended to study medicine, but in 1956, with low grades and a lack of interest, he left Boston and transferred into the art program at the University of Louisville, where Robert Gwathmey was a graduate student in fine art.[4]

The faculty at Louisville included a large number of German refugees, and their interest in expressionism had a profound impact on Thompson. In 1958, he encountered the work of another German refugee, the recently deceased Jan Müller, when he spent the summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Although Müller had died months before Thompson got to the Cape, he did meet Dody Müller, Jan’s widow and also an artist, who told him, “Don't ever look for your solutions from contemporaries—look at Old Masters.”[5] Thompson felt so strong an affinity with Müller that he created a sizeable oil-on-masonite work, The Funeral of Jan Müller, to mourn the man he had never met and whose funeral he had not attended. That same summer, Thompson also met and befriended a group of artists who were taking a divergent path from that of the New York School painters, including Emilio Cruz and Gandy Brodie. These artists, as Peter Schjeldahl writes, “embraced a peculiar vision of art history…The Provincetown look was an esthetically conservative, emotionally insurgent revival of late-19th-century, Gauguin-esque Symbolism. Its matter and manner announced the artists as a community of untrammeled, funky seers who all but breathed paint. Fanciful but not fatuous in imagery, its best products recall a famous statement of Maurice Denis in 1890: ‘Remember that a picture—before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote—is essentially a plane surface coated with colors assembled in a certain order.’”[6] At the end of the summer, Thompson returned to Louisville briefly, but soon left the city and school for good and headed to New York, eventually settling into a cold-water flat in a decaying tenement building on the Lower East Side, not far from where Benny Andrews lived at the same time.

In addition to an aesthetic sensibility and a life cut short, Thompson shared with Müller an unwavering energy, which was matched only by that of New York. In the city, he met and befriended Amiri Baraka (then, LeRoi Jones) as well as leading artists and writers of the Beat generation. He also participated in Happenings organized by Allan Kaprow and Red Grooms. A lover of jazz, Thompson was a regular at the Five Spot, a jazz club frequented by New York artists and writers, where legendary talents like Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Charlie Haden played. It was also in New York that Thompson quickly arrived at his mature style, taking Dody Müller’s advice to heart by reworking the compositions of European Masters such as Piero della Francesca, Nicolas Poussin, and Jacopo Tintoretto into simplified, abstracted forms painted in threatening and seductive tones that were hot and violent or deep and dark—seizing on the dynamism of these classical scenes and often transforming them into contemporary allegorical nightmares. In these paintings as well as what he called his “original” compositions, Thompson developed his own symbolic lexicon, which featured monstrous creatures emerging from the shadows (reminiscent of the paintings of Francisco de Goya, another of Thompson’s key influences), as well as birds, horses, and silhouetted men in hats—possible manifestations of the artist’s spiritual and physical existence. He created these sensual works in the monumental size of abstract expressionism and the intimate scale of predella panels. Bold, emotional, visceral, yet disciplined, Thompson’s paintings impressed artists and collectors alike. In less than a year after his arrival to the city, this audacious young painter had his first solo exhibition at the Delancey Street Museum, followed by a two-person show at the prestigious Zabriskie Gallery.

At the end of 1960, Thompson married Carol Plenda, and a grant from the Walter Gutman Foundation in 1961 enabled the couple to travel to Europe, where they lived in low-rent artists’ housing without heat or hot water for nearly a year. Thompson’s trip to Europe enabled him to study first-hand the masterworks that formed the traditional art historical canon. In Paris, he visited the Louvre almost daily to sketch.[7] In 1962, a grant from the Whitney Opportunity Fellowship gave them the funds to leave Paris for the island of Ibiza. They settled in the city of Ibiza, where the cost of living was exceptionally low and there was a large international community. The Thompsons soon became famous for their hospitality, welcoming friends and strangers into their home, feeding them, and hosting parties and happenings.

 

Bob and Carol Thompson returned to New York in 1963, renting an apartment on the Lower East Side, not far from the studio of friend and fellow artist Lester Johnson, who helped Thompson get a one-man show at Martha Jackson’s gallery that same year. The show received favorable reviews, and, as Judith Wilson writes, “in rapid succession, mainstream art-world doors began opening to the twenty-six-year-old artist.”[8] In 1964, he had solo exhibitions at the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago and at Paula Cooper’s gallery in New York, after which collector Joseph Hirshhorn purchased a number of his paintings. On the recommendation of Lester Johnson, Thompson was included in Yale University’s influential Seven Young Painters exhibition that same year. He had a second solo exhibition with Martha Jackson in 1965, which brought an unprecedented amount of viewers to the gallery.[9] Thompson left New York at the height of his success and spent the summer in Provincetown. In 1966, he went to Rome, where he required gall bladder surgery. Advised to rest after the operation, Thompson continued at his characteristically vivacious pace, and he died a few months after his surgery. In 1967, St. Mark’s Gallery in New York held a memorial exhibition of his work.

Since his death, Thompson’s work has been shown in a number of notable solo exhibitions. In 1969, a retrospective was held at the New School Art Center in New York, followed by a memorial exhibition at the Speed Art Museum, Louisville in 1971. Subsequent solo exhibitions were held at the University Art Gallery of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1974); the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC (1975) and The Studio Museum in Harlem in New York (1978). In 1998, the Whitney Museum of American Art organized a major traveling retrospective exhibition, featuring over one hundred of Thompson’s paintings with an accompanying catalogue by Thelma Golden. In 2012, the Hite Art Institute of the University of Louisville mounted Seeking Bob Thompson: Dialogue/Object. Since 1996, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has presented four solo exhibitions of the artist’s work, publishing catalogues for three. Most recently, the gallery presented Naked at the Edge: Bob Thompson in 2015.

In recent years, Thompson’s work has also been exhibited regularly in group exhibitions worldwide, including Il Secolo del Jazz: Arte, Cinema, Musica e Fotografia da Picasso a Basquiat (The Jazz Century: Art, Cinema, Music and Photography from Picasso to Basquiat) at the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rovereto, Italy, which traveled to the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris France and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona, Spain (2009); Blues for Smoke at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA, which traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art and Wexner Center for the Arts of the Ohio State University in Columbus, OH (2012); Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, which traveled to the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH and the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX (2014); Beat Generation at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France (2016); and The Color Line: African American Artists and Segregation at the Musée du Quai Branly (2016). This year alone, Thompson’s work was featured in Visionary Painting: Curated by Alex Katz at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, ME; Regarding the Figure at The Studio Museum in Harlem and Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965, previously at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery and now on view at the school’s gallery in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. His work is also part of the major exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, recently at the Tate Modern, London, England, and soon to be on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, and the Brooklyn Museum.

In a brief life that included only eight years of full-time painting, Thompson created a complex body of work that has proven to be of great significance and influence to successive generations of artists and art historians.[10] Bob Thompson’s extraordinary paintings, gouaches, and drawings are included in museum collections nationwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL); Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY); Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA); Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR); Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY); Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis, MN); Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL); Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); Nasher Museum of Art,  Duke University (Durham, NC); National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC); New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA); Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA); Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY); Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY); The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY); Tougaloo Art Collections, Tougaloo College (Tougaloo, MS); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT); and Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY).

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC is the exclusive representative of the estate of Bob Thompson.


[1] Bob Thompson as quoted in Judith Wilson, “Garden of Music: The Art and Life of Bob Thompson,” Bob Thompson exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of America Art, 1998), 37

[2] Ibid, 61

[3] Wilson, 29

[4] Ibid, 29-38

[6] Schjeldahl, “Touching Thompson,” Village Voice column reprinted on Artnet.com, http://www.artnet.com/magazine_pre2000/features/schjeldahl/schjeldahl10-19-98.asp, accessed January 2012

[7] Wilson, 46-65

[8] Ibid, 65

[9] Ibid, 66

[10] Ibid, 60-68

 

 

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965
Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY
January 10 - April 1, 2017

New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
United Arab Emirates
September 2017 - January 2018
https://greyartgallery.nyu.edu/

Visionary Painting: Curated by Alex Katz
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
June 1 - August 27, 2017
http://www.colby.edu/

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
Tate Modern, London, England
July 12 - October 22, 2017
http://www.tate.org.uk/

Picturing Mississippi, 1817-2017: Land of Plenty, Pain and Promise
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
December 9, 2017- July 8, 2018
http://msmuseumart.org/

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR
February 2 – April 23, 2018
http://crystalbridges.org/

Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
September 7, 2018 – February 3, 2019
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
LaJolla Museum of Art, LaJolla, CA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Museum of Art, Utica, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists, Boston, MA
Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
The Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky 
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
Tougaloo College Art Collection, Tougaloo, MS
University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1958
Arts in Louisville Gallery, Louisville, KY

1960   
Bob Thompson, Delancey Street Museum, New York, NY

1961   
Recent Paintings, Superior Street Gallery, Chicago, IL

1963   
Bob Thompson, The Drawing Shop, New York, NY
Bob Thompson, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
El Cosario Gallery, Ibiza, Spain

1964   
Painting and Drawings, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, IL; 1965
Bob Thompson: Gouaches, Paula Johnson (Cooper) Gallery, New York, NY

1965   
East End Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Bob Thompson: Paintings, Donald Morris Gallery, Detroit, MI; 1970
Bob Thompson: New Paintings, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1968
Bob Thompson: Important Works in New York Collections, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1969
Bob Thompson: A Retrospective Exhibition, New School Art Center, New School for Social Research, New   York, NY

1970
Paintings 1959-1966, Donald Morris Gallery, Detroit, MI

1971   
Bob Thompson 1937-1966: Memorial Exhibition, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

1974
Bob Thompson, University Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

1975
Bob Thompson, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Bob Thompson: Selected Works on Paper 1960–1966, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1976
Bob Thompson 1937-66: A Tribute, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1978
The World of Bob Thompson, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

1983
Bob Thompson 1937-1966: Major Works of the 60s, Vanderwoude-Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY;  1986, 88, 90, 91

1986
Matrix 90, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

1987
Bob Thompson, Jamaica Arts Center, Jamaica, NY
Bomhard Theater, Louisville, KY

1990
Bob Thompson:, Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY

1991
Bob Thompson: Paintings, Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY

1997
Bob Thompson: Heroes, Martyrs, and Spectres, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1998
Bob Thompson: Fantastic Visions, Paintings & Drawings, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York,  NY
Bob Thompson, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Bob Thompson, Martha Henry, Inc. Fine Art, New York, NY

1999
Bob Thompson, G.R. N’Namdi Gallery, Birmingham, MI

2005
Bob Thompson: Meteor in a Black Hat, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Haggerty Museum of  Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

2012
Seeking Bob Thompson: Dialogue/Object, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

2015
Naked at the Edge: Bob Thompson, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
 

1958
First 1958 Show, Provincetown Art Festival, Provincetown, MA
Second 1958 Show, Provincetown Art Association, Provincetown, MA
American Art of Our Time, Provincetown Arts Festival, Provincetown, MA
Drawings, City Gallery, New York, NY
1958 Louisville Art Center Annual, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

1959
Bob Thompson/Lester Johnson/Jay Milder, Ellison Gallery, Fort Worth, TX

1960
Jay Milder and Bob Thompson, Delancey Street Museum, New York NY
Jay Milder and Bob Thompson, Zabriskie Gallery, New York, NY
The Figure in Contemporary American Painting, organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, NY; Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, Terre Haute, IN; Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO; Hollins College, Hollins, VA; State University of New York, Oswego, NY; Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA; Winston-Salem Public Library, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM; Tyler School of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA; J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
The Horace Richter Collection: Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture, Mint Museum of Art,  Charlotte, NC

1962
SOS Glacerie, Paris, France
Friendly Art Store, New York, NY

1963
Moods of Light, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI

1964
Exhibition of Paintings: Peter Passuntino/Bob Thompson, City Gallery, New York, NY
Looking Back 1964-1949, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
International Selection 1964-1965, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
…Some Negro Artists, Art Gallery, Fairleigh-Dickinson University, Rutherford, NJ
Seven Painters, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Christmas Exhibition, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
Circulation Library Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The Bird in Art, The Audubon Society, New York, NY; The University of Arizona Art Gallery, Tucson, AZ
Cruz, Cox, Overstreet, Thompson, White, Whitten: Paintings, Antiquities, New York, NY
CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) Show, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1965
Figuration, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
Portraits in the American Art World, The New School, New York, NY
Second 1965 Show, Provincetown Art Association, Provincetown, MA
A Survey of Contemporary Art, J.B. Speed Museum Louisville, KY
Collector’s Choice, South Bend Art Center, South Bend, IL
Sixth Annual Festival, Temple Emanuel, Yonkers, NY
CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) Show, New York, NY

1966
New Figuration, Champlain Gallery, Harper College, SUNY, Binghamton, NY
The Negro in American Art, California Arts Commission, University of California, Davis, CA; Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, CA; The Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, CA; Dickson Art Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
43 Artists from 18 Nations, The Brooklyn Center, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY
The Harry N. Abrams Family Collection, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

1967
Christmas Exhibition, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
Friends of Bob Thompson Present a Group Memorial Exhibit, St. Mark’s Gallery, New York, NY

1968
The Humanist Tradition in Contemporary Painting, New School for Social Research, New York, NY
Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York

1969
Afro-American Artists Since 1950, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
Ten Afro-Americans, Dwight Art Memorial, Mt. Holyoke College, Holyoke, MA
The Tenants of Sam Wapnowitz, Star Tuttle Gallery, New York, NY

1970
Rembrandt Lamp Black: Afro-American Artists New York and Boston, Museum of the National Center of Afro- American Artists; The Museum of Fine Arts; The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA
Dimensions of Black, La Jolla Museum of Art, LaJolla, CA
Untitled I, Art Lending Service, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1971
Rebuttal to Whitney Museum Exhibition, Acts of Art Gallery, New York, NY
8 artistes afro-americains, Musée Rath, Geneva, Switzerland
The Martha Jackson Collection, Seibu Department Store, Tokyo, Japan

1972
Concept & Content: Cage, Thompson and Tapies, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY

1973
The Private Collection of Martha Jackson, University of Maryland Art Gallery, College Park, MD, Finch College Museum of Art, New York, NY; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

1977
Provincetown Painters: 1890s-1970s, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Perceptions of the Spirit in Twentieth Century American Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art and Graduate
Theological Union of Berkeley University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, TX; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH

1980
American Figurative Painting 1950-1980, Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA

1981
Image: Self Image, Pace University Art Gallery, New York, NY
The Sun Gallery, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA

1983
Celebrating Contemporary American Black Artists, Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead, NY

1984
Underknown: 12 Artists Re-seen in 1984, Institute for Art and Urban Resources (P.S. 1), Long Island City,    NY
The Figure in 20th Century American Art: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The American Federation of Art, New York, NY

1985
Sam Gilliam & Bob Thompson, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL
Martha Jackson Memorial Collection, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Expressionism: An American Beginning, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA
The Gathering of the Avant-Garde: Lower East Side, Kenkeleba House, New York, NY

1986
Fetishes, Figures & Fantasies, Kenkeleba House, New York, NY
Kind of Blue: Benny Andrews, Emilio Cruz, Earle Pilgrim, Bob Thompson, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA

1987
The Banks Family Collection, California Afro-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Image to Abstraction - The 50s, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY

1988
Works by Artists Who Are Black, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AK
The Figurative Fifties, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Newport Harbor Art    Museum, Newport Beach, CA

1989
Figurative Work of the 50s and 60s, Vanderwoude-Tannanbaum Gallery, New York, NY
Don’t You Know By Now, Philippe Briet Gallery, New York, NY
Ruth S. Schaffner Collection, University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

1990
Novae: William H. Johnson and Bob Thompson, California Afro-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA;  Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University, NY; Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, AL;    Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Comparisons: An Exercise in Looking, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute,
Washington, DC

1991
African American Artists of the Harlem Renaissance Period and later…, Sacks Fine Art Inc., New York, NY

1992
Color as a Subject, The Artists’ Museum, New York, NY
Paris Connections, Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1993
Free Within Ourselves, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; IBM    Gallery of Science and Art, New York, NY
Two Painters/Two Decades: Jan Muller and Bob Thompson, Vanderwoude-Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY
Diversity and Style: African American Artists, The University of Michigan, Dearborn, MI

1994
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Empowerment: The Art of African American Artists, Krasdale Gallery, White Plains, NY
The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN

 

1995
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks II, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Long
Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Selected Pieces from the Permanent Collection, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA

1996
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks III, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Collecting African-American Expressions, Carver Federal Savings Bank, New York, NY
The Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art, Hofstra Museum, Hempstead, NY
The Elegance of Memory, Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

1997
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks IV, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TN
Facets of the Figure: A Spectrum of 20th Century American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1998
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, V, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Fifty Years of American Drawings, Danese Gallery, New York, NY
Twentieth Century American Drawings: From the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection, Arkansas    Arts Center, Arkansas, AK; Sunrise Museum, Charleston, WV; Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN; Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID
Art by African-Americans, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ

1999
The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, VI, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Flint Institute of Art, Flint, MI

2000
Bob Thompson and Jan Muller, Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York, NY
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, VII, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY;
Appleton Museum of Art, Florida State University and Central Florida Community College, Ocala, FL
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery: The First Decade, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
The Figure, Another Side of Modernism,  Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural  Center, Staten Island, NY
Twentieth-Century American Art: The Ebsworth Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC;    Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Search for the Unicorn, Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York, NY

2001
Jazz and Visual Improvisation, Katonah Art Museum, Katonah, NY
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, VIII, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Texas
Southern University Museum, Houston, TX
Out of the Fifties–Into the Sixties: Six Figurative Expressionists, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2002
Modernism & Abstraction: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Academy of
Design, New York, NY
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, IX, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Tubman
African American Museum, Macon, GA

2003
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, X, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
A Century of Collecting: African American Art in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

2004
Embracing the Muse: Africa and African American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Smart Collecting: Acquisitions 1990-2004, The Smart Museum, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

2005
Syncopated Rhythms: 20th Century African American Art from the George and Joyce Wein Collection,    Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA
Eye Contact: Painting and Drawing in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2006
Recent Acquisitions: Bob Thompson and Viktor Schreckengost, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, New York, NY

2007
Crossing the Line: African American Artists in the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis, Jr. Collection, The George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
Body Beware: 18 American Artists, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Figuratively Speaking, ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA

2008
African American Art:  200 Years, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
A Thousand Kisses:  Love Letters from the Archives of American Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

2009
Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection, David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Il Secolo del Jazz: Arte, Cinema, Musica e Fotografia da Picasso a Basquiat (The Jazz Century: Art, Cinema, Music and Photography from Picasso to Basquiat), Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rovereto, Italy; Museé du quai Branly, Paris, France; Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Barcelona, Spain
Collecting African American Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
After Image, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY

2010
Richard & Mary Gray Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

2011
Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC

2012
African American Art in the 20th Century, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America’s Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899-2011), The New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA; Cape Code Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Group Shoe, Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York, NY
Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art, Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, TX
Blues for Smoke, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
INsite/INchelsea: The Inaugural Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY
Ashé to Amen: African-Americans and Biblical Imagery, Museum of Biblical Art, New York, NY; Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture; Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, TN

2014
Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Witness:  Art and Civil Rights in The Sixties, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH; The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX
Shaping a Collection: Five Decades of Gifts, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue, from the Collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and Camille O. and William H. Cosby Jr., Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC

2015
Represent: 200 Years of African American Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
REMIX: Themes & Variations in African American Art, Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC

2016
The Color Line: African American Artists and the Civil Rights in the United States, Musee du Quai Branly, Paris, France
Tightrope Walk: Painted Images After Abstraction, White Cube Bermondsey, London, England
Beat Generation, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African-American Expressionism, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Entanglements, Luhring Augustine, New York, NY

2017
Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY; New York University, Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, United Arab Emirates
Picturing Mississippi: Land of Plenty, Pain and Promise, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London, England
Sputterances, Metro Pictures, New York, NY
Expanding Tradition: Selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA
Regarding the Figure, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
Visionary Painting: Curated by Alex Katz, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
Color People, Rental Gallery, East Hampton, NY
Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI
Figuratively Speaking, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2018
Transformative Space: The N’Namdi Collection, August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Pittsburgh, PA
Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

2019
Selections from The Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI; Smith College Museum of Art, Smith College, Northampton, MA; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT