Michel Thompson was born in Fontenay-o-Roses in a French-American family. In his youth, he briefly served as a meteorologist in Lyon. In 1942 he settled in Paris. Since 1944 he studied painting at the Academy of Grande-Chaumiere, where he became friends with Paul Rebeyrolle and Bernard Buffet. In 1945, he first exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. In 1946, together with Matisse, Bonnard and other famous artists of the older generation, he participated in the exhibition “Black is Color” in the Maeght Gallery. Since then he has exhibited regularly in this gallery.
In 1947, when Paris museums had opened after the war, Michel Thompson discovered for himself the paintings of old masters. Under the strong impression of it, the artist for a long time departs from abstraction. In 1948, Thompson joined the group of artists L’Homme témoin (an exemplary man), which, in addition to him, Buffet and Rebeyrolle, also included Bernard Lorges, Yvonne Motte, Andre Minaux and Simon Dat. The group opposed “fashionable” abstract painting, declared its interest in modern man, a man of the era of the post-war reconstruction of the country.
Since 1949, Thompson has been working in the famous Parisian “Hive” (La Ruche). Until the early 1960s, it was annually exhibited at Parisian salons, whose vice president was his friend Paul Rebeyrolle. Received the Feneon prize in 1952, Prix Benvéniste in 1954. In 1954, he held his first solo exhibition, in 1957 – the second, the next year – the third, in New York.
“In May 1968,” says the biographer of the artist “he folded his brushes.” In subsequent years, Michel Thompson worked as a seller in the flea market. He continues to paint, but returned to painting only in 1975. His first exhibition after the break took place even later, in 1986, at the Galerie Capazza in Nance.
In later works, Thompson shifts from visualization to pure geometric shapes. A great influence on him at this time has Nicolas de Stael. Since 1980, he used acrylic paints.
In 1999, his first retrospective was held at the Pierre Basset gallery in Paris.
Michel Thompson’s works are in the City of Paris Museum of modern art, the Museum of Art and History of Saint-Denis, the museums of Blois, Clermont-Ferrand, Villeneuve-sur-Lot.