She enrolled at the Art Students League in 1938, where she studied with Vaclav Vytlacil and Dmitri Romanovsky. She attended the Ozenfant School of Fine Art and studied with the French Cubist, Amandé Ozenfant. In 1948, Thomas attended the Subject of the Artists School. There she interacted with William Baziotes, David Hare, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still.
In 1951, Thomas took part in the Ninth Street Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Thomas was one of the few women artists to be included in all five Ninth Street shows.
Thomas' first solo exhibition occurred in 1954 at Hendler Gallery, Philadelphia. Sam Feinstein noted that Thomas seemed, "not at all concerned with the opposition of horizontals and verticals,” but instead created works consisting of “soft, curvilinear brushings harmonized into a pictorial lyricism.”
In 1955, Thomas was one of eleven artists represented in a show at the Riverside Museum, New York. She exhibited alongside Franz Kline, Milton Avery, Kenzo Okada, and Leon Polk Smith. In Howard Devree's review of the exhibition, he gave recognition to Thomas', "personal color harmonies."
In 1960, Thomas had her second New York show, which was held at the Esther Stuttman Gallery in New York. When Thomas had another solo exhibition in 1961, held at Galerie Agnes Lefort in Montreal. In 1962 through 1964, Thomas was featured in one-artist shows in New York; Aspen, Colorado; and East Hampton, New York. By the time her work was featured at the Rose Fried Gallery in May 1965, she had developed the more geometric and structural approach of the art in the current exhibition.
Thomas continued to paint and actively exhibit her art until the end of her life.
In 2016, she was one of the artists included in Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition catalogue, a traveling exhibition organized by the Denver Art Museum. The accompanying catalogue, consisting of essays by several scholars, celebrated “the special contributions of women to Abstract Expressionism,” providing an “essential corrective” to what has been the “unequal accounting of women’s contributions” to the movement.
In 2023 her work was included in the exhibition Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940-1970 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Her work is in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Fonds national d’Art Contemporain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the Riverside Museum, New York City. Her papers are held at the Archives of American Art.
Personal History edit
Selected Collections edit
- Marter, Joan M. (2016). Women of abstract expressionism. Denver New Haven: Denver Art Museum Yale University Press. p. 162. ISBN 9780300208429.
- "Thomas, Yvonne, 1913-2009". Social Networks and Archival Context. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
- Marter, Joan (2016). Women of Abstract Expressionism. Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press.
- Gabriel, Mary (2018). Ninth Street Women. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 728n16.
- Feinstein, Sam (May 15, 1954). "Philadelphia: Heart's Revolt Against Mind". Art Digest.
- [H]oward, [D]evree (1955). "Eleven Painters and a Sculptor Feature Group Show at Riverside Museum". The New York Times.
- L., G. (November 1956). "Yvonne Thomas". Arts. p. 74.
- Chanzit, Gwen F. (2016). Introduction to the Exhibition in Women of Abstract Expressionism. Denver Art Museum in Association with Yale University Press. p. 10.
- "Action, Gesture, Paint". Whitechapel Gallery. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
- "Yvonne Thomas". Anita Shapolsky Gallery NYC.
- "Acquisition: Yvonne Thomas, "Portrait"". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
- "Yvonne Thomas papers, 1955–1979". Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- "Yvonne Thomas". The Aspen Times. September 4, 2009. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017.
- "Portrait". 1956.
- "Seattle Art Museum".
- images of Thomas' work on Artnet