NEW YORK—Two exhibitions of the symbolist paintings of Thomas Chimes (b. 1921) will take place in the coming months: at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Feb. 27-May 6) and at the Locks Gallery (March 2-April 6); the latter has represented the artist since 1983. Chimes has lived most of his life in Philadelphia, and interest in his work has primarily been centered there.
The museum show—“Thomas Chimes: Adventures in ‘Pataphysics’”—is planned as a retrospective that highlights the artist’s interest in symbolist ideas as well as the European writers and artists who influenced him—among them Antonin Artaud and Alfred Jarry, Giorgio di Chirico and Marcel Duchamp.
The exhibit at Locks Gallery includes 50 works—most of them small and some only 3-by-3 inches in size—with prices ranging from $5,000/30,000. “The paintings have gotten smaller as he has gotten older,” explains gallery owner and director Sueyun Locks, noting that problems with Chimes’ shoulder have affected both the size and output of his recent works.
Earlier pictures by the artist, dating back to the 1950s, when he briefly lived in New York City and was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, are more colorful than those created over the past 35 years. These, says Locks, have fetched as much as $75,000. Most sought-after are Chimes’ more monochromatic 1970s images, priced by the gallery in the $50,000 range on the secondary market.
To date, only one work by the artist—his 1960 oil-on-canvas Crucifixion—has appeared at public sale, earning $7,170 at Freeman’s auction house, Philadelphia, last year, generously exceeding the $1,500/2,500 estimate.
Chimes’ paintings are in the collections of numerous museums, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; and the Yale University Art Gallery,New Haven.