The Enigma of Bob Thompson
Bob Thompson's strange, (re)visionary painting is the subject of this chapter, which ofeers a questioning corrective to easy assumptions about musical influence. Although Thompson's best-known work is Garden of Music (1960), which features several prominent jazz players, the chapter argues that the painting is in many ways unrepresentative of Thompson, who, despite his close friendships with musicians, rarely depicted musical subjects and appears to have been little affected by music in his formal concerns. It explores the world of that painting and the aesthetic issues Thompson evoked in it, especially the overlapping and often mutual fascination between painters and jazz musicians in the post-war world. The chapter then discusses what Thompson's turning away from his training and his own experience meant for his art and how people are to judge it in the context of the American 1960s.
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