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Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock
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Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  73 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
A groundbreaking portrait of the intense personal and artistic relationship between Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, revealing how their friendship changed American art.

The drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, trailblazing Abstract Expressionist, appear to be the polar opposite of Thomas Hart Benton’s highly figurative Americana. Yet the two men had a close and highl
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Bloomsbury Press (first published November 12th 2009)
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Mar 15, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, biography
Excellent read! As a docent I have read about many artists and art periods. But I have never learned so much about Benton and Pollock as I did in this well written book. Beginning with the "lumps and bumps" of Rodin's The Man with a Broken Nose to Matisse's drawing of the blue nude to MacDonald-Wright's Synchronism to Thomas Hart Benton's rhythmic "hollow and bumps" to Pollock's visual rhythm of drip paintings. But also the father-son relationship between Benton and Pollock. And the major change ...more
Feb 17, 2013 Xander rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting book. As an armchair art enthusiast and Pollock fan, there was much that I learned from this book. My main quibble is perhaps with the title, I found it a too narrow definition. Surely Pollock is the focus of the book and there are many notable facts and anecdotes about Benton and Benton's influence on Pollock. But I found some of the most interesting segments of the story having to do with the greater environment and related contemporaries with whom both a ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Divvy rated it liked it
I read this book because it was chosen for a book club read, and initially I was really disappointed as I’m not particularly interested in Benton or Pollock’s art work, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is very well written and fairly readable. Reading it did give me more of an appreciation for Benton’s work, and perhaps Pollock’s too. I think anyone who really likes Pollock or abstract expressionism would probably have enjoyed it a lot more than I did. Adams seems to be making some pretty grou ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Vivian rated it really liked it
This book explores the relationship between Pollock and Benton and the development of the American Moderns in the process. Lots of interesting and personal details keep this read interesting. Made me put the author's other books on my to read list. Especially interesting so far is the back story of Benton's connection to the Wright brothers of art- Willard and Stanton.
Jo Ann
Aug 25, 2014 Jo Ann rated it liked it
Although this is quite a dense book, I found it very interesting since I knew quite a lot about Thomas Hart Benton's paintings that were in museums, Harzfelds' department store in KC, the Missouri State Capitol, etc., and I saw them a lot during our 25 years in Kansas City. I did not know much about his life, however, or about either the paintings and life of Jackson Pollock. My book club reviewed this book in a gorgeous, airy, studio of a Fayetteville artist, George Dombeck - this was a perfect ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Mike rated it liked it
Adams uses a very wide canvas in linking the American Muralist Thomas Hart Benton and the Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollack. Pollack studied under Benton and remained friends until Pollack death. The intriguing aspect of this mentorship/friendship is how different and difficult both men were. Adams paints with a large palette; using Cubism, Synchromism and Surrealism as links in the chain binding these to artists. Rodin, Mattisse, Picasso, Orozco and Mondrian are all influences.

Marxist pole
Cori Sherman North
Mar 24, 2013 Cori Sherman North rated it it was amazing
What a thorough look at both artists--Henry Adams presents some startling facts and insights to the American art history world here! Most surprising to learn is that Jackson Pollock was in touch (and clearly depended upon as mentor) with Thomas Hart Benton until a few days before he died in his auto accident. Neither men actually ever "disowned" one another, and seemed to respect the other's art-making. Pollock in his underlying composition emulated Benton's early lessons(especially spiraling mo ...more
Nov 08, 2013 Al rated it liked it
While it seems likely that Henry Adams’ assertion that Thomas Hart Benton’s influence on Jackson Pollock’s art lasted throughout his career is controversial in the world of art history, Adams does a fine job of supporting this interpretation in “Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock.” Part art history, part biography, the well-researched “Tom and Jack” follows the lives and influences on these two major American artists. Adams does a fine job of explaining ...more
Susan Bybee
Jun 04, 2013 Susan Bybee rated it it was amazing
I got a little lost in some parts with the art theory and analysis, but overall, I'm even more pleased with this book than I thought I would be. Initially, I was worried that the author would be straining to make tenuous connections between Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, but instead, he proves that there was a very real and strong bond between teacher and student that lasted up until Pollock's death. Even better, the book carefully examines all of Benton's and Pollock's influences, so i ...more
Chiefly concerned with tracing Pollock's artistic influences, with who and what shaped his work. Adams argues that the most important influences were filtered through his first and most significant mentor, Thomas Hart Benton. Through Benton, the teacher who provided him with his first serious instruction, Pollock absorbed elements of Synchromism, modernism, Jungian symbolism, compositional practice, creating movement, the manipulation of space and volume, the use of colour. What Adams really suc ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
While perhaps not so much for a casual reader, I found Tom and Jack to be a fascinating look at both modern art history and the relationship between two very different men.
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
This book is filled with the intertwining biographies of mainly two men. Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock.

To my surprise, I found I was more interested in Mr. Benton than the one I had heard of. Life was very small yet, very worldly, in the early part of the 20th century. You found Emerson and Faulkner traveling the pages with both these artists.

Mr. Adams writes a very readable biography and I can say, I enjoyed learning of these American Artists and their 'art.'
Nov 15, 2012 Molly rated it really liked it
Adams admirably synthesizes a huge amount of information. His close readings of the paintings are particularly compelling (too bad the publisher didn't spring for more illustrations). He only seems out of his depth when talking about psychology, and this is a relatively minor part of the book.
I left feeling incredibly curious about Benton. His writing that is quoted in the book is full of wit and insight--including his comments about Pollock.
Jonathan Lopez
Mar 03, 2010 Jonathan Lopez rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-history
A wonderful and deeply human portrayal of these two complex artists with interesting side notes on many under-studied figures in the rise of American modernism. Provocative, accessible, and very nicely written. My interview with the author was published in the January issue of Art & Antiques magazine:
Jan 19, 2010 Marilyn rated it liked it
Shelves: art
An amazing connection between seemingly different artists is documented in this book. I wish there were more pictures of all the mentioned artists works included. Our local museum, The Figge, in Davenport, Iowa currently has a Jackson Pollack exhibit on loan from the University of Iowa so the timing of this read was perfect!
Mar 20, 2011 Caryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: artbooks
Very good book. I have learned much from the content. I feel the author did a wonderful job of giving a complete look at Benton's influences on Pollock's artwork and the other aspects of the unique times and culture of the 20th century artworld. I learned much from this one and would recommend it.
Feb 14, 2013 AJ marked it as to-read
Shelves: art-lovers-group
I renewed this book through my library for all the times I could and still couldn't get through it. I just don't think I put the time into reading this book but I found that it got boring. Maybe I wasn't in the right mindset to read it and may tackle it at another time.
Ed Smiley
Feb 21, 2011 Ed Smiley rated it really liked it
I am not sure that I agree with every point in the book, but it covers a lot of forsaken aspects of Pollock's development, and his relation to his teacher, Benton.
Lauren Albert
This book didn't excite me. It was well written and well researched but it seemed more the stuff of a long art journal article rather than a longish book.
Feb 17, 2011 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dof-didnotfinish, art
Just decided to let Tom and Jack go back to the library. It started out well, but now I'm slogged down in way too much art theory.
Apr 06, 2014 Kodiaksm rated it did not like it
What a bore!
Disjointed and hard to believe it is factual.
Anna Lewis
Feb 03, 2011 Anna Lewis is currently reading it
Book for Art Lovers Group - what we are reading!
Aug 01, 2010 Lucy rated it it was amazing
This book was FABULOUS!!!! A GREAT READ!
Feb 26, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
It was interesting.
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Mar 12, 2016
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Mar 06, 2016
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Henry Adams is an art historian and professor of art history.
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