Bob Thompson

Triumph of Bacchus

Not on view



Oil on canvas

Overall: 60 1/4 × 72 1/8in. (153 × 183.2 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee and The Lauder Foundation, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund

Rights and reproductions
© Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY


This painting depicts a jubilant procession in honor of Bacchus, the pagan god of wine, shown here as a yellow silhouette surrounded by celebratory attendants, including satyrs, nymphs, and fantastical animals. Bob Thompson used flat, bold, unmodulated colors to render this bacchanalia, in which humans, gods, and creatures interlock in a dense, dynamic surface that discourages focus on any one part. Thompson’s subject matter was often based on Greek and Roman mythology as well as the religious themes of Renaissance masters. Yet Thompson eradicates the precise representational detail and compositional order of Renaissance art, instead creating a shallow, compressed space that calls attention to the picture plane. The flattened forms and silhouettes evoke the undulating rhythms and syncopated movement found in jazz music, which Thompson deeply admired, and create an abstracted, dreamlike atmosphere that renders place and time indistinct.