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"Thomas Hart Benton's America Today" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 72, no. 3 (Winter, 2015)
Griffey, Randall R., Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, and Stephanie L. Herdrich with contribution from Shawn Digney-Peer and Cynthia Moyer (2015)
This title is in print.
Read an interview with Randall Griffey on Now at the Met.
Description

Thomas Hart Benton is often recognized as the leader of the 1930s movement known as Regionalism, which celebrated rural life in the United States. However, he lived and worked primarily in New York from 1912 to 1935, one of the most vibrant and dynamic periods in the city’s history. It was also a critical time for Benton’s artistic development, as he gradually established and set on the course that would define his career, one characterized by a passionate commitment to public art, populist subject matter, and a distinctively expressive figurative style rooted predominantly in European Mannerism.

The pinnacle of Benton’s New York years was the mural cycle he painted for the newly erected headquarters of the New School for Social Research at 66 West 12th Street, which opened to the public in January 1931. Called America Today, the mural — his first significant commission for an institution — raised Benton’s artistic stature not only in New York, but also nationwide, setting the stage for his appearance in December 1934 on the cover of Time magazine, the first time an artist was accorded that honor.

This Bulletin reveals the many remarkable stories that America Today has to tell and presents new discoveries about Benton’s epic cycle. The essay and entries contained in these pages elucidate the mural’s rich content, particularly Benton’s celebration of the Machine Age and American “progress” in the 1920s.

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