THOMAS CHIMES | Concerning Bosse-de-nage cynocephalus

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Locks Gallery
Concerning Bosse-de-nage cynocephalus, 1990
Oil on wood
Signed verso upper right corner in ink
36 x 39.88 x 1.25 in.


The artist
Private Collection, Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Locks Gallery, Thomas Chimes: Paintings, May 1 - 31, 1990, checklist no. 4.
New York, Marc Jancou Contemporary, Private Future, December 9, 2010 - January 29, 2011.
Philadelphia, Locks Gallery, Thomas Chimes: The One Who Whispers, February 21 - March 28, 2020.

The subject of this ethereal portrait is the French poet and playwright, Alfred Jarry, one of Thomas Chimes' artistic and literary heroes. Jarry is best known for the play Ubu Roi, however his 1898 novel, Exploits & Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician is an essential piece of prose in Jarry's body of work. Following the adventures of the main character, Dr. Faustroll, this story is a literary manifestation of ‘pataphysics, or the science of imaginary solutions. Dr. Faustroll is accompanied on his journey by Bosse-de-Nage, a monkey. The title of the present work is in reference to Bosse-de-Nage, whose physical outline – that of a monkey – cleverly makes up the back of the hat Jarry is wearing in the portrait.

With a career spanning over five decades, Thomas Chimes (1921–2009) remains one of the most singular and idiosyncratic figures to emerge from Philadelphia in the 20th century. After a promising early career in the New York Art scene, Chimes moved back to Philadelphia to remove himself from the quickly centralizing art world and focus on his dynamically changing work. As his career progressed he became increasingly hermetic, focusing the subjects of his paintings on a constellation of cultural figures and their contributions that paralleled his own explorations of the human condition. Towards the end of his career, Chimes would reflect that French symbolist thinker and ‘pataphysician Alfred Jarry, pioneering conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, and modernist Irish author James Joyce, were the most influential on his artistic output. Locks Gallery has represented the artist and his estate for over a quarter of a century.

Works by Thomas Chimes can be found in the collections of such museums as the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, D.C., Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; J.P. Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; Portland Art Museum, OR; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; Washington, D.C., Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum, Hartford, CT; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY; The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; The Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; Galerie der Stadt, Tuttlingen, Germany; and The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. In 2007, Chimes was the focus of a major monograph by Michael R Taylor which accompanied a retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Adventures in ‘Pataphysics. In 2013, a subsequent publication Into the White was released coinciding with a touring European exhibition, examining his celebrated later work.