Thomas Gondek: Breaking the Bonds
Saturday, October 3–Sunday, November 1, 2020
In the summer of 2019, MOWA was fortunate to be gifted ten works from the late 1960s and early 1970s that exemplify Thomas Gondek’s mastery of nontraditional art techniques and materials. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Gondek graduated from the city’s Layton School of Art in 1967, and went on to earn an MFA degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1969. After a year-long Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship in Australia, he launched a highly successful forty-year career as an artist and teacher in the United States.
Gondek’s love of organic and geometric shapes dates from his student days. Seeing the “American Show” at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1967 was inspiring: abstract works by Frank Stella, Gerald Noland, Kenneth Noland, and Ellsworth Kelly awed him with their size, color, and sheer physical presence. Gondek consequently took up airbrushes and automotive paint; he turned to plexiglass and plywood to create dynamic forms that straddle painting and sculpture, blurring the line between two and three dimensions and fulfilling his desire “to break the bonds of the wall.”