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Bob Thompson Happening!

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Dorothy Levitt Beskind
American, 1917–2014
Bob Thompson Happening!, 1965
16 mm film transferred to digital format
Running time: approximately 22 minutes
Bob Thompson Papers, 1949–2005, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, courtesy of Joanne Beskind Elkin

Dorothy Levitt Beskind met Thompson through his gallerist, Martha Jackson, who encouraged her to expand her practice to filmmaking; this film of Thompson represents her first effort. She aspired to portray her subjects’ creative practice in all its fullness: “I try to capture the studio atmosphere of these artists and have found that they have made of themselves the most important work of art.” She offers a record of Thompson at work in New York and Provincetown, shedding invaluable light on his technique. She also shows how he drifted with a personal radiance between the studio and his surroundings. As his wife recalled, “when Bob entered a room, activity stopped and suddenly, he was the center of attention.”