BiographyPhilip J. Thompson was born in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1933. He received his BA degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, in 1955 and his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1958. Thompson retired as a professor emeritus at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, where he had been a member and chair of the Department of Art (1959-1992) for many years. He was active as a painter, printmaker, banner designer and sculptor doing commissions and one-man exhibitions. Thompson created a number of modular geometric abstractions during the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, he completed 35 paintings for the icon screen of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Peter and St. Paul of Bramble, MN. He also decorated four harpsichords and one organ case with figural groupings in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s, he created 30 versions of the facial features of John Lennon in his Lennongrid series
An art exhibit of Thompson’s paintings and graphics was held at Augsburg College in the Alumni Gallery of the Christensen Center in 1999 called “Looking Forward to the Past.” The artist’s statement about this show states, “Looking forward to the past is like imagining a future while remembering the past. In summing up four decades of teaching and producing art work, my primary response is that one must seek through any activity a balanced zone between paradoxical opposites.”
Thompson exhibited in several Fine Arts Festivals. He exhibited two oil paintings in the Festival of April 24 -30, 1960; two ink drawings in the Festival exhibit of April 16 - 22, 1961; and, two oil paintings in the Festival of March 31 - April 7, 1962. In the Watercolor, Print, Drawing exhibit held December 9 - 19, 1964, he exhibited an ink drawing entitled “Children’s Games” which was subsequently purchased for the Fine Arts Collection. At that same festival, he also showed an ink drawing entitled “Trinity.” Of “Children’s Games” Thompson said it was a sketch for a painting and that “4 or 5 paintings in acrylic and oil have been done on this theme.”
Dr. Marion Nelson, director emeritus of Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, and an art historian at the University of Minnesota, considered Thompson to be a Norwegian-American artist. Thompson was not included in his exhibit catalog listed below because he was “just entering the scene” around the cutoff date for the catalog of 1970.
Source of BiographyNelson, Marion John. Paintings by Minnesotans of Norwegian Background 1870-1970. Northfield, MN: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2000; http://www.augsburg.edu/news-archives/1999/thompson.html