Robert Farris Thompson, professor of African and Afro-American Art History at Yale, spoke on "Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of the Black Atlantic World” in Taylor Hall.  The master of Timothy Dwight College at Yale, in 1974 Thompson organized the revolutionary African Art in Motion exhibition for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, that demonstrated the existence of an African esthetic vocabulary and its importance in the interpretation of African art.  His subsequent exhibit, “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” at which he was at work when speaking at Vassar, introduced in 1981 an large and almost unknown body of works from the former Kingdom of Kongo and demonstrated their influence on the visual culture of the United States.

In 1983, Thompson published Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy, which identified the sources of contemporary Black Atlantic aesthetics in the cultures of Africa, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.  His Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas was published in 1993.

In awarding Thompson its inaugural award of Distinguished Lifetime Achievement for Art Writing in 2003, the College Art Association acclaimed him as a ““towering figure in the history of art, whose voice for diversity and cultural openness has made him a public intellectual of resounding importance.”      “Yale University to Honor Art Historian Robert F. Thompson,” Yale Bulletin (2009)

Thompson spoke at Vassar in March, 1980.