Thomas Chimes: Adventures in 'Pataphysics
By Michael Taylor
150 color and 124 black-and-white illustrations
Thomas Chimes is one of the most important artists to emerge in Philadelphia since World War II. Tracing the stylistic evolution of Chimes’s idiosyncratic art, this book presents a long-overdue survey of his remarkable five-decade career: canvases combining landscape imagery with symbols such as crucifixes (late 1950s–mid-1960s); mixed-media constructions set within finely crafted metal boxes (late 1960s–early 1970s); his best-known works, a series of forty-eight intimate sepia-toned panel portraits of nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers and artists that are placed within oversized wood frames (1973–1978); and the enigmatic “white paintings” of the past two decades.
In an essay that explores each of these creative periods in detail, Michael R. Taylor reveals how Chimes has found inspiration in the writings of literary heroes such as Antonin Artaud, James Joyce, and especially Alfred Jarry, the iconoclastic French playwright and novelist whose invented "’Pataphysics"—the “science of imaginary solutions”—has provided the artist with a seemingly inexhaustible font of imagery. Taylor discusses the links between Chimes’s work and that of contemporaries such as Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Jess, and Nancy Spero, as well as that of important predecessors like Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Duchamp, and fellow Philadelphian Thomas Eakins.
Michael R. Taylor is The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has published widely on Duchamp, Dada, and Surrealism.