Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton (April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975)

Thomas Hart Benton (April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975)

Style: Synchromist, Regionalism

Background: Thomas Hart Benton was born in Neosho, Missouri on April 15, 1889. His fluid, sculpted figures in his paintings showed everyday people in scenes of life in the United States.

Education: With his mother’s encouragement, in 1907 Benton enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. Two years later, he moved to Paris in 1909 to continue his art education at the Academie Julian. Influenced by the latter, Benton subsequently adopted a Synchromist style.

Achievements: After studying in Europe, Benton moved to New York City in 1913 and resumed painting. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. His war-related work had an enduring effect on his style. He was directed to make drawings and illustrations of shipyard work and life, and this requirement for realistic documentation strongly affected his later style. Later in the war, classified as a “camoufleur,” Benton drew the camouflaged ships that entered Norfolk harbor. His work was required for several reasons: to ensure that U.S. ship painters were correctly applying the camouflage schemes, to aid in identifying U.S. ships that might later be lost, and to have records of the ship camouflage of other Allied navies.

On his return to New York in the early 1920s, Benton declared himself an “enemy of modernism”; he began the naturalistic and representational work today known as Regionalism.  

Famous Works:

Thomas Hart Benton - Cradling Wheat

Thomas Hart Benton – Cradling Wheat

Thomas Hart Benton - Cut The Line

Thomas Hart Benton – Cut The Line

Thomas Hart Benton - Hollywood

Thomas Hart Benton – Hollywood

Thomas Hart Benton - Jealous Lover

Thomas Hart Benton – Jealous Lover

Thomas Hart Benton - Rita

Thomas Hart Benton – Rita