Week #4 in my Winter Weekend series on artist’s I love – This week it’s Thomas Hart Benton, 1889-1975.

 

The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson

 

Benton started out in Missouri as the son of a US Senator. As a result he was well-educated, world-wise and somewhat wealthy.  He spent time in New York and Paris learning his craft as an artist, trying on different styles.  Eventually he moved back to Missouri and embraced what became known as Regionalism.  His images depict farmers, families, workers and environments that show an everyday America.

 

Wreck of the Old 97

Wreck of the Old 97

 

He often showed a tension between the new and old, in particular how that tension affected the growth of America into the west.  You will see again and again a stylistic ‘bump’ in the middle of many of his paintings. This swell, as if the world was fluid like an ocean, is one of my favorite things about his work.

 

Persephone

Persephone

 

As did many artists, Benton loved to reinterpret ancient myths. This image is a midwestern play on the myth of Persephone.  Through a series of calamities she was condemned to Hades.  A bargain was struck with the Gods by which she could spend half her time above ground, on the earth, and then return to Hades for the other half.  Thus was born the reason behind our spring and summer seasons of bounty and growth and our autumn and winter seasons of death and desolation.

 

Benton Murals - Missouri State House

Benton Murals – Missouri State House

 

Benton painted many murals, including a number in the Missouri State House. One of the items on my bucket list is to visit Kansas City and surrounding areas to tour all the amazing murals he created.

 

Sources of Country Music

Sources of Country Music

 

‘The Sources of Country Music’ was his final painting.  It was still on his easel when he died in 1975.

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