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Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart  Benton

(1889 - 1975)
Born: Neosho, Missouri
Style: Regionalism
Famous Works:
  • America Today (1930-31)
  • Indiana Murals (1933)
  • Persephone (1938-39)
American Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then moved to Paris in 1908 to study at the Académie Julian. There he met the Synchronist painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright. Benton experimented in the Synchronist style for many years, working with color theory and abstractions of color. After limited success, he changed his style, rejecting all modernism and becoming a proponent of Regionalism, an American movement which favored scenes from the Midwest. Benton became one of the country's most fervent painters in the style, and his paintings are infused with textured and restless energy and flat figures that are almost caricatures. Benton enjoyed fame with these canvases, and was even featured on the cover of Time magazine, and unusual honor for a living artist. In 1930, he painted a cycle of murals for the New School for Social Research in New York. These paintings were a series of vignettes from American life, and were so popular that they helped to secure government funding for further mural painting for other artists. Benton's style grew to include classical Greek myths and stories as subjects. He contributed to magazines and reviews, and wrote two autobiographies singing the praises of representational art. Benton is perhaps best known as the rough and tumble teacher of the ironically modern young Jackson Pollock.
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