For all those fans of the artist Harry Becker, it is the book by David Thompson that has a place on all of our book shelves. I was never fortunate enough to meet David but feel that his recent death on 13th April 2019 requires a few words . As an author he is known for 'Raphael, The Life and the Legacy' (1983) and 'Harry Becker' (2002).
A number of the images used in the Becker book were from Davids’s personal collection and we are currently offering these for sale . They can be seen on our Harry Becker website page .
David was also one of the major “loaners of work” for the 1993 Ipswich Museum exhibition of work by Harry Becker and many of the paintings on offer have the exhibition labels verso. We are also fortunate to have the photographic catalogue of Becker’s work produced by David during his life which forms a wonderful documented record of the pieces that David examined over the years.
David Michael Thompson, was born at Ryde, Isle of Wight, Hampshire in 1929, his mother's maiden name was Morgan. David has some 40 years working experience as a writer, broadcaster and film-maker on visual arts subjects, latterly taking up painting. Art critic of 'The Times' for seven years, director of the Institute of Comtemporary Arts, associate editor of 'Studio International' and chairman of the Arts Council's exhibition committee.
He was central to the exhibition Arte Inglese Oggi—English art today—took place at Palazzo Reale, Milan, from February to May 1976. It was co-organized by the British Council and the municipality of Milan, which set up a joint selection committee which included David Thompson who took the lead on Sculpture , and Norbert Reid, who acted as president.
The English representatives on the selection committee highlights the connections between the powerful institutions shaping the contemporary art world of that time. Reid was Director of the Tate Gallery, a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain Art Panel from 1964 to 1974, a member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) Advisory Panel from 1965, and Chairman of the Fine Art Advisory Committee of the British Council between 1968 and 1975. David Thompson was a critic and Director of the ICA.
The choice to take 1960 as the beginning of the period covered by Arte Inglese Oggi legitimized the narrative whereby Anthony Caro’s mythologized trip to New York and his first abstract works of 1960 mark the starting point of a “New British Sculpture”, international in its transatlantic connection with “high modernism” and hence fully allied with medium specificity. This narrative was most clearly articulated in Thompson’s sculpture section, where Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull were the only artists who had been active since the immediate postwar years. The selection was otherwise shaped around sculptors who taught and had been trained at Saint Martin’s School of Art between the mid-1950s and early 1960s, with galleries dedicated to Anthony Caro, Phillip King, William Tucker, and Tim Scott; while their work also featured in a separate section on “New Generation” sculpture, alongside that of David Annesley and Michael Bolus. From younger generations, Thompson selected Nigel Hall R.A. , Barry Flanagan, Julian Hawkes, Tim Mapston, and Carl Plackman.
In later life he moved to Suffolk with his actress wife ,Freda Dowie, and without any formal art training, he began painting in 1985. He has exhibited regularly with The Suffolk Group; Southwold Art Circle and the Ipswich Art Society, for which he was chairman for two years. David has his studio at his home “Hollies”, Love Lane, Westleton, Suffolk .
David did a wonderful job bringing Becker to a wider audience and we thank him for his passion.
Mark & Melanie Ponting
Blonde Fine Art