This lushly illustrated volume for the first time focuses specifically
on the strong influence the South had on Benton's explorations of America
and on his career as an artist.
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), a widely recognized American painter,
muralist, printmaker, and illustrator, first attained prominence during
the 1920s and 1930s as an artist, teacher, critic, writer, and outspoken
art world personality. By 1934, when he was the first artist featured on
the cover of Time magazine, he had become one of the most recognized artists
in the United States.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing throughout his career, Benton
traveled the breadth of the country, sketching and recording the details
of the changing daily life he encountered on the backroads and in the isolated
cultural pockets of America. Inspired by his early campaign travels in
Missouri with his father, who had been elected to Congress as a Populist
in 1897, and driven by his own conviction that the nation was sacrificing
its unique culture and history in its rush to become a new, modern society,
Benton set out to capture the essence of contemporary America.
The American South held a special fascination for Benton, and from his
travels and sketching trips throughout the region came many of his most
noted images of America. Representing both the drawings Benton made during
his travels to the South and the major paintings and murals that later
incorporated details from these sketches and finished drawings, Thomas
Hart Benton and the American South is a feast to the eye and reveals much
about the artist and the South that so captivated him.