With a career spanning over five decades, Thomas Chimes (1921–2009) remains one of the most singular and idiosyncratic figures to emerge from Philadelphia in the 20th century. After a promising early career in the New York Art scene, Chimes moved back to Philadelphia to remove himself from the quickly centralizing art world and focus on his dynamically changing work. As his career progressed he became increasingly hermetic, focusing the subjects of his paintings on a constellation of cultural figures and their contributions that paralleled his own explorations of the human condition. Towards the end of his career, Chimes would reflect that French symbolist thinker and ‘pataphysician Alfred Jarry, pioneering conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, and modernist Irish author James Joyce, were the most influential on his artistic output.
Works by Thomas Chimes can be found in the collections of such museums as the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, D.C., Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; J.P. Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; Portland Art Museum, OR; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; Washington, D.C., Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum, Hartford, CT; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY; The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; The Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; Galerie der Stadt, Tuttlingen, Germany; and The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. In 2007, Chimes was the focus of a major monograph by Michael R Taylor which accompanied a retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Adventures in ‘Pataphysics. In 2013, a subsequent publication Into the White was released coinciding with a touring European exhibition, examining his celebrated later work.
Locks Gallery has represented the artist and his estate for over a quarter of a century, working to further understanding about the artist's four major periods of work: the crucifixion paintings (1958–65), metal box constructions (1965–73), panel portraits (1973–1978), and critically acclaimed white paintings (1980–2009).