André Thomkins – Lackskins

André Thomkins – Lackskins

“Thomkins has created stormy, unpredictable, dynamic compositions. A curious effect of their volatility is that they seem as uncontrolled as the weather, yet because they are so complex it seems impossible that they were arrived at by chance.” Artforum, London



Title Information

Edited by Stephan Kunz and Dagmar Streckel. With an introduction by Stephan Kunz and essays by Carlheinz Caspari, Daniel Spoerri, and André Thomkins

1st edition

, 2012

Text English and German


160 pages, 92 color and 4 b/w illustrations

17 x 23 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-364-0

In cooperation with Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur


André Thomkins (1930–85) was a renowned draughtsman, painter, and word artist, who combined a classic mastery of artistic media with a sense of whimsy and experimentation influenced by both surrealism and Dadaism. In the 1950s, Thomkins created what he called “Lackskins” by applying gloss paint to water. In a method similar to marbling paper, Thomkins would then use paper to pick up the abstract pattern of the paint on the surface of the water. He discovered this new approach to painting after he observed that glossy paint left a film of color on the surface of the water as he washed his paintbrushes. With great care and genuine curiosity Thomkins manipulated the color on the top of the water, and created what he described as “something planetary, very light, and fluctuating.” Each piece combines the calculation of a watchful artist with the spontaneity of water in motion, resulting in works that are intoxicating but distant, colorful but unknowable. These pieces foreshadowed the later chromatic abstract paintings of younger generations.

Published to coincide with an exhibition of the Lackskins in the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, André Thomskins – Lackskins is the first comprehensive presentation of these works. Thomkins’s own writing on his “Lackskins” is also collected in this volume.

Authors & Editors

Carlheinz Caspari

Stephan Kunz

 (*1962), art historian, has been a curator at the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau 1988–2011. He has been appointed director of the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur in 2011.

Daniel Spoerri

Dagmar Streckel

André Thomkins