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March 5, 1980

Professor of Art Robert F. Thompson from Yale University lectured on “The Transatlantic Tradition; African and Afro-American Art” in Taylor Hall. The master of Timothy Dwight College at Yale, in 1974 Thompson organized the revolutionary African Art in Motion exhibition for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, demonstrating the existence of an African esthetic vocabulary and its importance in the interpretation of African Art. His subsequent exhibit, “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” at which he was at work when speaking at Vassar, introduced in 1981 a large and almost unknown body of works from the former Kingdom of Kongo and demonstrated their influence on the visual culture of the United States.

Professor Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy (1983) identified the sources of contemporary Black Atlantic aesthetics in the cultures of Africa, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. He appeared at Vassar under the auspices of the Helen Forster Novy ’28 Visiting Scholar Fund.

The Years