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Thomas Hart Benton

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  31 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Born in Missouri at the end of the nineteenth century, Thomas Hart Benton would become the most notorious and celebrated painter America had ever seen. The first artist to make the cover of Time, he was a true original: an heir to both the rollicking populism of his father’s political family and the quiet life of his Appalachian grandfather. In his twenties, he would find ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

As I was reminded of by a few Indiana readers after reviewing Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons earlier this year, the American Midwest is littered with crumbling tributes (forgotten statues, aging schools) to artists from those areas who flashed up suddenly during the Early Modernist era of th
THOMAS HART BENTON: A Life. (2012). *****.
Benton (1889-1975) was born in Neosho, MO and died at Martha’s Vineyard. He led a long and productive life, full of controversey and adventure. He was one of the prominent painters in the group that came to be known as Regionalists. Two other members of this group included Grant Wood and John Stuart Curry, both of whom were friends of Benton. He is primarily remembered as a muralist, but left behind a significant body of easel works. Once you have seen
I was attracted to this book because, having visited Neosho. Mo., several times, I was aware of Benton. It was where he’d spent his youth, the son of a congressman. His father didn’t approve of his son’s painting bent. But nevertheless “Tommy,” as he was sometimes known, persisted. Grassroots pragmatism became the eventual the driving force of his painting style even though it took two decades for him to find it. Early on he wallowed around with abstractionism and cubism. His crusty personality, ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Marilyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
I enjoyed reading about Benton--I have a print of one of his pieces--however, the author was a bit too wordy for my taste and that made reading this book a real chore at times. Benton was definitely a complex personality but I found it hard to stay interested when the author went into great detail about dogma and other artists' personalities. I have put Benton's autobiography "An Artist in America" on my to-read list.
Took me forever to read this, but only because it's not for skimming. Lots of good content and insight into a painter who was truly groundbreaking. Not a thorough critique of the work, but then again it's not meant to be. Puts the production into personal context. RECOMMENDED.
I think this is a great update to the biographies of Thomas Hart Benton that are out there, although I could quibble over a few things, particularly some of Wolff's comments about regionalism. Well written and a good read though.
J Haeske
Marvelous, well researched and captivating.
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