THOMAS KEMPF was born in Jasper, Indiana, on December 30, 1895, and studied at Syracuse University. Aside from Chicago, he has painted in Colorado and, abroad, in France. He is a member of the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, and has been affiliated with the Chicago Society of Artists, the Hoosier Salon, the All-Illinois Society of Artists and the Illinois Academy. His work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and various Chicago galleries, also in New York, Denver and Indianapolis. He has had one-man shows at the Little Gallery, the Allerton Gallery, the Cinema Theatre, the Playhouse and the Walden Gallery in Chicago, and in Meineger's Gallery in Denver. His work has been written about in Chicago newspapers and magazines and the New Yorker and Art News of New York, by Meyer Levin, C. J. Bulliet, Forbes Watson. Marguerite B. Williams and Eleanor Jewett.
Art is the emotional manifestation of a dynamic personality or race; the ardent creation of a burning individual or nation; the spontaneous urge emerging into shape from an unbridled emotional impulse. Art is the consummate expression of the innate mental images which make up the imaginative life of the artist. Art in whatever form is the subconscious flaming expression that creeps into that conscious form. Art knows no morality or utility. Art is a necessity inasmuch as it spontaneously originates from an urge that cannot be suppressed. Great art may spring from the most uncultured, as in Van Gogh and, especially, Rousseau; or from the very highly cultured as in Da Vinci or Piscasso. As far as art appreciation is concerned, it seems as if a little culture is a dangerous thing, because the child, the simple and the highly cultured appreciate true art, whereas the person with a smattering of culture fails to feel the emotion of modern art. Distortion of itself does not constitute great art. So-called realism in painting may be true art as in Rembrandt or Rubens, but it is the emotional abstraction and not the realism that makes their paintings art. A thing of great beauty in nature may be a commonplace thing in art-such as a marvelous sunset or a gorgeously beautiful woman; whereas an ugly object in nature may be an object of marvelous beauty in art-such as a dilapidated building or an ugly person. In other words, a work of art is not a copy of something already beautiful, but the expression of emotions felt by an artist and transferred to canvas or stone. Mere pigment can never imitate light, so even though a painting appear realistic in every other way, the light could never be. Art, using nature as a nucleus, is not an illusion but the conception of a new reality, a new form, a new vitality. Influences in art are inevitable. No artist can create without being influenced by his predecessors or his associates, but the true artist always has a creative force of his own that is projected into his work. True art is an emotional reflection of the age in which it is created. Thomas Kempf.