Thomas Hart Benton was a thoroughly American artist. His regionally focused paintings and murals depicted everyday American life as well as the country’s history. This volume focuses on one of Benton's most American associations: Hollywood. Not only did Benton create commissioned murals and portraits of film stars and movies, but he also developed a style that was highly cinematic. This volume is the first to collect all the works conceived by Benton for the film industry. It includes ephemera, photographs, and documents of Benton at work, along with a series of thought-provoking essays that explore a diverse array of topics—from Benton’s engagement with American identity, to parallels between his use of Old Master methods and film production techniques. Fans of Thomas Hart Benton will find surprising insights into his career, while those fascinated by Hollywood history will discover how one of America’s most revered artists shaped and was in turn influenced by the film industry.
The publication accompanies the exhibition American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood on view at the Peabody Essex Museum from June 6 through September 7, 2015, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art from October 10, 2015, through January 3, 2016, Amon Carter Museum of American Art from February 6 through May 1, 2016, and Milwaukee Art Museum from June 9 through September 5, 2016.
Austen Barron Bailly is the George Putnam Curator of American Art at the Peabody Essex Museum.