J. Theodore (“Ted”) Diamond, “Self-Portrait,” 1975-85


Gouache in paper, 9 x 6 inches



J. Theodore (Ted) Diamond (American 1938-1985)

Ted Diamond studied at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, but neither completed his education nor enjoyed a career as an artist. In 1965 Ted visited my first gallery at 128 Newbury Street, Boston–I immediately bought two self-portraits; I treasure them to this day. We have acquired a substantial  group of his intimate gouaches that had been housed in notebooks found in his room in Boston General Hospital’s psych ward after his death by a supporter/caregiver friend who kept them safe for nearly 30 years.

The energy of the paintings, ranging from only 3 x 4 inches to 18 x 24 inches, results from deft handling and powerful scale beyond their humble size. They recall James Ensor’s visions and Francis Bacon’s painterliness; their emotional content, expressed with keen draughtsmanship and coloristic mastery reflect a neurotic personality–single heads or figures, fragmented and ghostly images, multiple heads, and multiple figures in compressed interiors, self-portraits and portraits of fellow patients. A few sheets seem to be almost complete abstractions; but even these betray madness. To my eye they evoke James Ensor and Francis Bacon, and have what curator emeritus of the Achenbach Foundation,  Robert Flynn Johnson, calls a “Jazz” spirit, a mid-60s bohemianism, an “Outsider’s’” vision in the deepest sense.