Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original

Henry Adams, Author, Nelson Gallery Foundation, Author Alfred A. Knopf $60 (357p) ISBN 978-0-394-57153-9
Benton (1889-1975) is a painter shrouded in paradox and misapprehension. Though pigeonholed as a regionalist chronicler of the Midwest, many of his finest on-site pictures are of Southern blacks and poor whites. Remembered best are his folksy rural scenes and aggressively three-dimensional murals, but the public tends to forget that he ran through the gamut of modernist styles (he was Jackson Pollock's teacher) and that his brilliant abstract color experiments ally him with the modernist movement. Some of Benton's crowded murals of the 1930s reflect his leftist sympathies, yet critics reviled him as politically conservative. These contradictions are illuminated in this catalogue of a touring exhibition curated by Adams. The text stands on its own as a wholly engaging biography, offering an unbuttoned look at a pugnacious, often reckless, artist who valiantly sought to preserve a rural America that was vanishing before his eyes. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Hardcover - 207 pages - 978-1-55859-011-3
Paperback - 978-1-55859-071-7
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