Monday, May 20, 2019

“Mildred Thompson’s” art on display at the Cummer

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is excited to announce the acquisition of “Magnetic Fields,” a new work of art by abstract artist Mildred Thompson (1936-2003), born in Jacksonville, Florida.  The acquisition was made possible through the generous support the Rushton William Hays Revocable Trust and the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest.

“Magnetic Fields” (1991), part of a series by the same name, shows a rich yellow ground with arcs and lines drawn in kinetic expression with vibrant reds, oranges and blues in thick impasto.  The upper portion of the painting shows concentric arcs of red around an implied midpoint, with darts of blue and orange shooting off in many directions, suggesting centripetal and centrifugal forces.  Inspired by the scientific principles governing magnetism, “Magnetic Fields” connects the scientific with the metaphysical.  Thompson’s interests were broad and included the study of quantum physics, cosmology, and theosophy.  The piece emanates a pulsing, frenetic energy that is unique to her painting style, a visual language she developed to interpret phenomena one experiences, but cannot see.

Mildred Thompson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1936.  She graduated from Howard University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Art degree.  While at Howard, she studied under James Porter, a pioneering African-American art historian.  She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1956, earned a Max Beckmann Scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum School from 1957 to 1958, attended the Art Academy of Hamburg from 1958 to 1961, participated in a residency at Castle Roccassinibaldi, Italy in 1959, and in 1961 and 1962 was selected for the prestigious MacDowell Colony residency in New Hampshire.  Though the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum each purchased works from Thompson in the early 1960s, she spent the majority of the 1960s and ‘70s in Germany, in response to racial and gender discrimination in the United States. During this time abroad, she taught, traveled, and exhibited her art across Europe, creating a vast body of work in printmaking, painting, and sculpture.

In the early 1970s, Thompson, influenced by the abstract paintings of the early modernists such as Wassily Kandinsky, consciously turned away from the creation of representational imagery to fully focus her craft on the abstract. She was among the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, and one of the few women of color in that group. In lieu of falling into the societal trap of ever-changing art trends and politically-driven content, Thompson artistically interpreted varied scientific and musical theories that are not visible to the naked eye.

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

829 Riverside Avenue
   Jacksonville, Florida 32204
   (904) 356-6857
Hours of Operation & Admission

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