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Bob Thompson papers, 1949-2005

Bob Thompson papers, 1949-2005

Thompson, Bob (Robert Louis), 1937-1966

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of figurative painter Bob Thompson measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1949 to 2005. Thompson's career is documented through scattered biographical material; business correspondence between his wife Carol Thompson and various galleries, dealers, businesses, and friends; creative and editorial writings by Thompson as well as commemorative tributes and notes written by others; business records of the appraisal, sale, study, and exhibition of Thompson's work after his death; exhibition catalogs and publicity, news clippings, and other printed material; and photographs of the artist, exhibitions, and art.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bob Thompson (1937-1966) was a figurative painter in New York, N.Y.

Provenance

The collection was donated by Elaine Plenda, the artist's sister-in-law, in 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2012. The papers were initially organized by Carol Thompson, Bob Thompson's wife.

A Finding Aid to the Bob Thompson Papers, 1949-2005, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.thombob
Author
Finding aid prepared by Kimberley Henze
Biographical/Historical note
Bob Thompson (1937-1966) was a figurative painter in New York City.
Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and studied art at the University of Louisville before moving to New York City in 1958. In 1960, he married Carol Plenda and the couple lived in Paris, France (1961-1962) and Ibiza, Spain (1962-1963), returned to New York City (1963-1965), and then settled in Rome, Italy (1965-1966) before Thompson’s tragic death at the age of 28 from a drug overdose.
Thompson was known for his reworkings of traditional compositions borrowed from canonical masters, including Piero della Francesca, Masaccio, and Goya, which he integrated into more elemental works with unnatural color, silhouetted forms, and suggested space. Influenced by jazz, Thompson’s art rebutted contemporary abstract form but retained its sense of freedom, rhythm, and expression.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as six series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1953-2003 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1971-2000 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 3: Writings, 1949-1998 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1973-2001 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1960-2005 (Boxes 1-3, OV 4; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1951-2000 (Boxes 2-3; 0.4 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of figurative painter Bob Thompson measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1949 to 2005. Thompson’s career is documented through scattered biographical material, including two videocassettes; business correspondence between his wife Carol Thompson and various galleries, dealers, businesses, and friends; creative and editorial writings by Thompson as well as commemorative tributes and notes written by others; business records of the appraisal, sale, study, and exhibition of Thompson’s work after his death; exhibition catalogs and publicity, news clippings, and other printed material; and photographs of the artist, exhibitions, and art.
Provenance
The collection was donated by Elaine Plenda, the artist's sister-in-law, in 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2012. The papers were initially organized by Carol Thompson, Bob Thompson's wife.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level, and a finding aid was prepared by Kimberley Henze in 2015.

Restrictions on Access

COLLECTION IS BEING PROCESSED AND DIGITIZED AND IS CLOSED TO RESEARCHERS.

Restrictions on Use

"Bob Thompson Happening" (1965), duplicate video of 16 mm motion picture film Available for on-site research only. Permission for reproduction must be made to Joanne Elkin, daughter of the filmmaker; jelkin@treadwellfarm.com

How to Cite This Collection

Bob Thompson papers, 1949-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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