This gouache is one of at least two works that Bob Thompson created based on Titian's oil painting Perseus and Andromeda (1553-62, Wallace Collection, London). Titian's Italian Renaissance painting became a springboard for Thompson's exploration of intense and expressive color, energetic composition, and personal symbolism.
According to an ancient Greek myth, Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danaë, a mortal, rescues the beautiful Ethiopian princess Andromeda, who was to be sacrificed because her mother, Casseopeia, had offended the sea-god Poseidon.
Perseus finds Andromeda chained to a rock by the sea just as she is about to be devoured by a sea monster. He slays the monster and later marries Andromeda. In Titian's painting, Andromeda is nude except for chains around her arms and right ankle and a swath of drapery across her shoulder and lower body.
Thompson eliminates Andromeda's chains and the drapery, thus exposing her full nudity. Instead of a sword, Perseus carries one of the symbols that often appear in Thompson's work—a bird, usually caught by the feet, sometimes hanging limp, other times trying to escape and fly away.
Through the use of personal metaphors, ambiguous spaces, flattened forms, and expressionistic colors, Thompson's works often suggest sexuality, violence, rituals, and dreams, thus altering the content of the original sources. His reinterpretation of his sources is not specific, however, allowing the viewer to ponder different possibilities of meaning.
Untitled (Perseus and Andromeda) by Bob Thompson
Selections from the Nasher Museum of Art
October 1, 2008