August 3, 2008

The Art of Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was from Missouri by 1934, Benton had become one of the most recognized artists in America and was selected to be the first artist featured on the cover of Time magazine. Why was he famous? He put regionalism on the map!

(Benton, Thomas Hart. Lewis and Clark at Eagle Creek. c. 1967. The Eitelijorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.)

Regionalism is an American term that was used to describe the work of a number of rural artists from the Midwest, during the 1930s. American Gothic painted by Grant Wood is the most famous artworks from this period. Regionalists often rejected modernism and shared a humble point of view with a desire to depict everyday American life.

(Benton, Thomas Hart. Sheepherder c. 1955-60. Oil on canvas, 48 x 66 in.)

As American citizens moved toward the industrialized cities to get jobs, the middle class began to rise. Benson believed that modernism was for the elitist. Educated in Paris, he discarded the European high culture decadence that he had observed. He sketched the daily life that he encountered while he traveled on the back roads of America.

Later, he incorporated the details from these drawings into his major paintings and mural projects. He produced many works of art that depicted American folk traditions and scenery.

(Benton, Thomas Hart. July Hay. c. 1943. Egg tempura, methyl cellulose & oil on masonite, 38 x 26 3/4 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.)

I love the wavy swirling lines of his objects and the unique way that he paints trees, plants and stones. You can recognize the distinctive techniques in all of his work.

Thank you Thomas Hart Benton for creating regionalism, you are much appreciated here!

Enjoy :)