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Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock Hardcover – November 24, 2009


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Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock + Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock (Bollingen)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1ST edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596914203
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596914209
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Adams, author of Eakins Revisited (2005), practices art history with a novelist’s narrative skills and psychological acuity, a sleuth’s instincts, a passion for aesthetic and technical explications, and a gift for sea change interpretations. In this utterly absorbing, carefully reasoned inquiry into the profound relationship between two painters, one reviled, the other worshiped, Adams reclaims the wrongfully maligned Thomas Hart Benton and recalibrates our perception of Jackson Pollock and his masterpieces. Benton hid his true cultured self behind the mask of a “semi-literate hillbilly,” just as his “technical virtuosity” is concealed within his controversial murals. An exemplary teacher as well as a trailblazing artist, Benton was mentor and father figure to Pollock. “It is no exaggeration,” writes Adams, “to say that Benton created Pollock as an artist.” Adams cracks the secret of Benton’s “rhythmic flow” approach to composition, tracing its roots to the forgotten synchromism movement and its colorful creators. Adams then offers arresting insights into Pollock’s life and work, from his utter dependence on Benton and problematic adoration for Benton’s wife to the harrowing consequences of his bipolar disorder and his complex inspirations, from Jungian analysis to Asian mysticism. Encompassing a stunning discovery by his art-historian wife, Adams’ commanding, corrective double portrait reveals myriad camouflaged truths. --Donna Seaman

About the Author

Henry Adams has been singled out by Art News as one of the foremost experts on American painting, and his most recent book, Eakins Revealed, has revolutionized studies of Thomas Eakins, another icon of American art. He collaborated with Ken Burns on a documentary on Benton, which was watched by 20 million viewers on PBS. He is a professor of American art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

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Customer Reviews

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I have already started reading it in time for my book club and love it.
Heather
An exceptionally good study of the influences, especially that of Thomas Hart Benton, which culminated in the great abstract, drip paintings by Jackson Pollock.
Christian Schlect
I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in art, in Jackson Pollock and/or in Thomas Benton!
volcanologist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Houser VINE VOICE on September 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In TOM AND JACK, Henry Adams, one of the creative contributors to the documentary Ken Burns' America: Thomas Hart Benton, takes a close look at the influence of Thomas Hart Benton on perhaps the greatest American artist of the twentieth century, Jackson Pollock. In this rich and insightful dual portrait, Adams first must rehabilitate Benton's reputation as a prolific, dynamic, and socially progressive realist who rose to fame as a WPA mural painter. Adams looks at Benton's expatriate experiences in Paris, the influence of the now forgotten school of Synchromism on his sense of dynamism, and examines Benton's eventual decline (dismissal really) in the eyes of fellow artists and east coast intellectuals. As a teacher at the Art Students League in New York, Benton enjoyed being an iconoclastic influence on his mostly male students. Pollock and Pollock's brothers, also artists, were part of this group. Although Benton and Pollock were quite different in many ways (Benton was quite learned and well read while Pollock was inarticulate, if not exactly illiterate), they were both highly driven artists who never really felt themselves to be artworld insiders. Adams is at his best when analysing the men's artwork, but he is equally comfortable exploring the psychology of their relationship. Since Pollock spent a good deal of time in psychotherapy, Adams's marshalling of Freudian and Jungian psychoanalytical theories as practiced in mid-century America is not out of place, and his presentation of Pollock's relatiohip with Benton and Benton's wife Rita as classically Oedipal is convincing.Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By drkhimxz on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henry Adams has provided the general reader with an interesting picture of Thomas Hart Benton, the most notable of the American Regionalists, and the major influences on his work. Recent generations of art-lovers need to be reminded of those who established an American art inter-penetrated by the vigorous traditions of Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries as well as the more recent impact of Asian and African techniques. Particularly welcome is documentation of the influence of Morgan Russell and Stanton MacDonald-Wright on Benton's concept and methods. (Aficionados of the American detective story will be interested in the review of the art historical role of Stanton's brother, Willard, who, under the pseudonym S.S. Van Dine, created the first modern American Sherlock Holmes, Philo Vance, in best selling novels and popular films.) In his treatment of Benton, MacDonald-Wright, and Pollock, Adams suggests the important role of writers, critics, patrons, dealers,museum curators and mass media, in the making of art celebrity and success. Willard Wright was very useful to Benton in thsi regard as Greenberg was to Pollock later. In dealing with Benton, Adams is on firm ground, having written books and scholarly articles, and having been involved in a Ken Burns documentary on the subject. With Benton's artistic and personal character established, he turns to the complex figure which is Jackson Pollack. Here I feel the reader must be aware of the degree to which Adams is retailing documented facts as opposed to hypothesized causality and personal interpretation. He is openly opposed to some noted students of Pollock, and often must venture into the always shaky ground underlying the analysis of personality and intimate interrelationships.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David H. Mattingly on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Tom and Jack by Henry Adams is sure to ruffle a few feathers, especially those die-hard Pollock fans who revel in the standard mythology regarding his career. I have read many, many books and articles on Pollock over the years so this one was refreshing because of the new information it presents. Adams has done a stellar job of defending his thesis: Pollock was influenced by both Benton and Synchromism both to a much larger degree than previously thought. Though at times Adams seems guilty of developing speculative arguments, he mostly sticks to the facts and definitely to the idea of proving his thesis. It's a great book and not only challenges previously held beliefs (that Pollock was a non-objective painter, for example) but, from my point of view, proves them wrong with room to spare. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a great tale of art history. How Thomas Hart Benton influenced the style and art of Jackson Pollock. Lovers of modern art should definitely read this book
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Buckwheat Oats on August 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is simply a facinating book. It informs without overwhelming the reader on the line of influence from the Synchomists to Benton and on to Pollock in a logical way. The book is well written and captures the personalities of the various characters - and they were really characters - along the way from Willard Wright aka S.S. Van Dyne, Albert Barnes,Benton and his family and Pollock and his.
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By susan c bierman on September 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not the most enjoyable read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Allyn Vodicka on May 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book examines the fascinating connection between Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton and gives insight give to the work of Pollock but also rekindles interest in the work of Benton. Excellent book.
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