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Thomas Chimes: Adventures in 'Pataphysics

February 27 - May 6, 2007


(above: Photograph of Thomas Chimes, by Sid Sachs.)



The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting a comprehensive, 50-year retrospective exhibition devoted to the art of Thomas Chimes. On view from February 27 - May 6, 2007, Thomas Chimes: Adventures in 'Pataphysics will present approximately 100 paintings, metal box constructions, and works on paper created between 1959 and 2006, including many never previously exhibited. The first full-scale review of the Chimes's career since 1986, this exhibition will provide a fresh look at the life and work of this highly original artist. (right: Thomas Chimes (American, born 1921), Untitled (Crucifix 3), 1964. Oil on linen, 10 ? x 7 5/8 inches. Private Collection.)

"We are delighted to present this long overdue examination of the career of an artist who has brought a unique voice and perspective to some of the most important artistic issues of the last half-century," said Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "This retrospective will offer our visitors a wonderful opportunity to consider Tom Chimes's career as a whole and explore the full scope of his vision."

"By tracing the stylistic evolution of Chimes's work, we aim to reveal the artist's remarkable ability to reinvent himself periodically, as well as to underscore the conceptual nature of his artistic practice," said Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, and organizer of the exhibition. "Another key component of the exhibition will be the interplay between his paintings and those of his artistic precursors. The context of the Museum's superb collections of American painting and Modern and Contemporary art allows us to appreciate the complex relationship of Chimes's highly individual art to that of his artistic heroes, including Thomas Eakins and Marcel Duchamp, whose work he admires above all others ."

Thomas Chimes: Adventures in 'Pataphysics opens with an examination of the artist's early landscapes of the late 1950s, which were inspired by Vincent van Gogh's anguished subject matter and vivid yellow hues. These works also represent his first experiments with abstraction in which Chimes explored the formal and structural relationships in his work, delving into what Taylor calls a "serious interrogation of the canvas surface."

Within a few years Chimes had moved on to canvases that combined landscape imagery with specific symbols such as stars, ladders, and crucifixes which register the profound impact of his encounter with Matisse's decoration of the Chapel of the Rosary of the Dominican Nuns at Vence in the South of France, which Chimes first saw in 1952, as well as his Greek Orthodox upbringing. By the early 1960s Chimes had enjoyed successful solo shows at the Avant-Garde and Bodley Galleries in New York, resulting in sales to many prominent collectors. Alfred H. Barr, Jr. purchased two of his paintings for the Museum of Modern Art's collection in 1961 and 1963 respectively. The first museum purchases of Chimes's work, these acquisitions cemented his reputation at the time as an artist of talent and promise.


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