thomas hart benton a lifeby justin wolff
Last Updated : GMT 13:03:42
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Thomas Hart Benton: A Life By Justin Wolff

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Thomas Hart Benton: A Life  By Justin Wolff

London - Arabstoday

During the hard luck years of the 1930s, Thomas Hart Benton’s paintings celebrating the virtues of small towns and farms, hard work, family, and community made him the nation’s best known artist.   But while his idealized vision of American life was popular during the Depression, its appeal did not last long. With the emergence of Abstract Expressionism at the end of the World War II, Benton\'s realist works quickly fell out of favor. Yet even as the art world changed dramatically, Benton remained a leading, if often controversial, figure. Thanks to Thomas Hart Benton: A Life, Justin Wolff’s new biography of Benton, we have the chance to renew our understanding and appreciation of this seminal figure and his legacy. Wolff convincingly demonstrates that Benton was a gifted artist who played a central role as American art moved into the modern era. Benton was born in Missouri in 1889. His great uncle and namesake was a celebrated US senator and his father served multiple terms in the US House of Representatives. But Benton resisted his father’s demands that he pursue the family business and he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1909, he moved to Paris and became acquainted with Impressionism and modern art. He continued to experiment with color abstractions after moving to New York City in 1912 and briefly became one of the artists who surrounded Alfred Stieglitz. Surprisingly, given what we remember him for today, Benton was, according to Wolff, an accomplished modernist. But Benton was never comfortable with abstraction and struggled to find his artistic vision. Wolff notes that as late as 1917, “Benton didn’t possess a coherent principle of art…. To not know if one was a figurative or abstract painter was to not know the most fundamental thing about oneself.” Gradually, his art evolved in a representational direction that Wolff calls “modernist realism” and focused on American life and subject matter. Starting in 1929, he began to depict the American experience through monumental wall paintings and his efforts presaged the revival of mural painting in the following decade. In 1929-30, for example, he painted a series of “America Today” murals for the New School for Social Research (now displayed in the AXA building on New York\'s Sixth Avenue). In 1932, he did a series entitled “The Arts of Life in America” for the Whitney Museum of American Art (now in the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut). He taught at the Art Students League in New York City from 1926 to 1935 where he was a popular, if idiosyncratic, teacher. Jackson Pollock studied with Benton for many years but theirs was far more than a teacher-student relationship. Pollock greatly admired the hard-charging, heavy-drinking, successful Benton and became a close family friend. He babysat the Benton’s children and vacationed with them on Martha’s Vineyard. In return, they tolerated (and facilitated) his drunken binges, including the one where Pollock professed his love for Benton’s wife and asked her to marry him. Despite Benton’s growing recognition and success, he was continually at odds with the New York art world – he hated its elitism and pretentiousness and the critics savaged his work. In 1935 he relocated to Kansas City and stayed there for the remainder of his life. He continued to paint murals and some of these – such as A Social History of Missouri (1935-36), the History of Indiana (1932) Independence and the Opening of the West (1956), and The Sources of Country Music (1975) – are among his greatest accomplishments. Despite charges that his murals were a cliche, Benton refused to idealize the past and his work was often controversial. His Missouri project included slaves being whipped, a lynched man hanging from a tree, and the James brothers staging bank and train robberies. The Indiana painting prominently featured the Ku Klux Klan holding a rally in front of a burning cross. In both cases, local citizens were outraged. Wolff makes clear that Benton had a difficult if not volcanic personality. Among the adjectives he uses to describe him are surly, belligerent, arrogant, pugnacious, combative, gruff, inflexible, cantankerous, argumentative, churlish, cruel, and blunt. He was a “heavy-handed” “blowhard” who had “a hard time making friends.” In case that’s not enough, Wolff suggests that he was also homophobic and misogynistic.   Given this personality readers will wish that Wolff had spent more time describing Benton’s immediate family and the role they played in his life. The portrait of Benton’s parents is insightful and thorough and Benton’s relationship with Pollock is carefully examined. But his wife Rita – who was central to Benton’s artistic success and provided much-needed emotional ballast – gets relatively little attention. Their children, Jessie and TJ, are barely mentioned. In the end, Wolff focuses heavily on how this accomplished, popular, complex, and controversial painter found and continually refined his artistic voice. The volume is carefully researched and exceptionally readable. Wolff clearly admires Benton’s accomplishments but is frank in describing his work – as when he calls one of the artist’s best-known murals “hackneyed” and “banal.” Given Benton’s place in the evolution of modern art in America and the ease with which he is overlooked today, this is a valuable and welcome book.

arabstoday
arabstoday

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

thomas hart benton a lifeby justin wolff thomas hart benton a lifeby justin wolff

 



Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

thomas hart benton a lifeby justin wolff thomas hart benton a lifeby justin wolff

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Jordanian woman reveals her project

GMT 00:46 2017 Saturday ,11 November

Jordanian woman reveals her project
Arab Today, arab today The Big Apple bike boom

GMT 10:47 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

The Big Apple bike boom
Arab Today, arab today Keep kids busy at Thanksgiving gatherings

GMT 11:14 2017 Friday ,10 November

Keep kids busy at Thanksgiving gatherings
Arab Today, arab today Leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey meet

GMT 10:12 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

Leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey meet
Arab Today, arab today 'Advanced' cyber attack targets Saudi Arabia

GMT 10:18 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

'Advanced' cyber attack targets Saudi Arabia
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Australian academic's book pulled

GMT 15:20 2017 Monday ,13 November

Australian academic's book pulled
Arab Today, arab today May under Brexit pressure at EU reform summit

GMT 02:14 2017 Saturday ,18 November

May under Brexit pressure at EU reform summit
Arab Today, arab today Delhi half-marathon to go ahead

GMT 03:51 2017 Saturday ,18 November

Delhi half-marathon to go ahead
Arab Today, arab today The history of solar eclipses

GMT 05:16 2017 Sunday ,20 August

The history of solar eclipses
Arab Today, arab today Honda recalls 800,000 minivans

GMT 11:43 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

Honda recalls 800,000 minivans
Arab Today, arab today VW says will invest over 34bn euros

GMT 07:19 2017 Tuesday ,21 November

VW says will invest over 34bn euros
Arab Today, arab today Singer Jahda Wahba has unlimited ambitions

GMT 07:56 2017 Monday ,20 November

Singer Jahda Wahba has unlimited ambitions
Arab Today, arab today paObama climate envoy slams Trump's rejection

GMT 16:04 2017 Friday ,17 November

paObama climate envoy slams Trump's rejection

GMT 09:23 2017 Saturday ,18 November

Fedra happy for “Between Two Worlds” success

GMT 11:15 2017 Thursday ,16 November

Angola oil boss sacked by father's protege

GMT 18:41 2017 Friday ,20 October

Designer Aql Faqih aspires to innovation

GMT 11:38 2017 Wednesday ,15 November

Unloved vultures fight for their survival

GMT 11:49 2017 Thursday ,17 August

Egyptian artist presents new collection of designs

GMT 13:41 2017 Tuesday ,21 November

French choke up over proposal

GMT 00:44 2017 Monday ,20 November

Japanese regulators raid Airbnb

GMT 17:12 2017 Monday ,07 August

Al-Shawaifi reveals secrets of total solar eclipse

GMT 16:53 2017 Tuesday ,05 September

Youssra depended on colored foam
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday