Thomas Hart Benton: What You Might Not Know About the Artist

Thomas Hart Benton was a pivotal Regionalist artist – this fact most of us know. Benton was a painter known mainly for his mural work, and the historical take on the everyday in the context of the history of America at that time.

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Island Hay, Thomas Hart Benton, 1945, Lithograph, 9.75 x 12.50 inches, contact gallery for pricing

First and foremost, Benton was known as one of the best known American artists of the early and middle 20th century. Benton was a leading member of the art movement known as Regionalism which represented the everyday life in particularly rural settings. Most of these works were depicted in the Midwest, representing the everyday American life.

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Thomas Hart Benton “County Politics”

Thomas Hart Benton also came from a very influential family, as his father was a four-term Congressman from Missouri. Benton’s great-uncle, Thomas Hart Benton, was one of the first two senators from Missouri when it became a state. Benton’s father named him after his great-uncle because of his advocacy for westward expansion in the United States. Great-Uncle Benton was also one of the few people to serve in the House of Representatives after having served as senator. Benton’s father chose to name him this strong name, making it clear that he wanted his eldest son to move forward in politics.

However, though his father wanted a direction in to politics, Benton’s first job as an artist was originally as a newspaper cartoonist for the Joplin American in southern Missouri. Benton later sailed to Paris in 1909 to study at the Académie Julian where he stayed for a few years and was introduced to many notable artists. He met muralist Diego Rivera, modernist John Marin, and others who influenced some of Benton’s works.

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Hymn Singer, Thomas Hart Benton, 1950, Lithograph, 16 x 12.37 inches, contact gallery for pricing

Though being influenced by other artists and his studies, one major influence has stood out in many of Thomas Hart Benton’s paintings and various works. Music provided a way for Benton to include a style within his art that uses color as a way to illustrate movement. Benton mainly concentrated on representational art after he returned to the United States, many of his paintings contain musical imagery.

View more of Benton’s works at Kiechel Fine Art.

Source: Read the full article by Valerie Debenedette here.
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