Thomas Hart Benton


Thomas Hart Benton was born in 1889. He began his artistic career with training at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1906-7 and then went to Academie Julian in 1908-11. While in Europe he was influenced by works of El Greco and the Italian Renaissance, which later appeared in the figural distortions of his mature work. During his early stages, Benton experimented with many Modernist styles before rejecting it all for being too esoteric and distorted. He held a very abrasive attitude towards abstraction. Unfortunately, much of his early work was destroyed in a fire in 1913. Benton's paintings reflect a Realist attitude meant to be a reminder of the strength of the American people with a dynamic, changing character. In the 1920s he developed his style of jerky figured, long limbed bodies in muralistic settings, which were meant to draw viewers into a powerful narrative. A joint exhibition with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry helped Benton acquire fame as a Regionalist painter. He also taught at the Kansas City Art Institute, School of Art and Design and the Art Students League and mentored Jackson Pollack. In 1942 Benton produced an anti-fascist series called "The Year of the Peril" that were reproduced by the U.S. government on stamps, cards and posters. Thomas Hart Benton died in 1975.