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Happy Birthday Thomas Hart Benton



One hundred and twenty-two years ago today, one of the most important artists in the Regionalist Movement was born.  Thomas Hart Benton (April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975), who used his art to elevate the experiences of everyday people and ordinary events, pursued an art career despite the dissatisfaction of his family.

By the 1920s Benton began to forge his strongly personal style, which is characterized by grand compositions brimming with curvilinear forms, realistic details, and intensified colors.

Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889 - 1975), June Morning, 1945, oil on masonite, 42 x 48 in., Purchased with funds from The Cummer Council, the Morton R. Hirschberg Bequest, and the Mae W. Schultz Charitable Lead Trust, AP.1994.2.1. Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

June Morning was painted by Benton in 1945 and is the cornerstone to the Cummer’s American Art Collection.   Characteristic of his mature style, June Morning depicts a view from his mother’s house on Martha’s Vineyard.  In the foreground, the vibrant, twining foliage parts to reveal Benton’s neighbor milking a cow. The Atlantic Ocean is visible in the distance.  Painted one month after Germany’s surrender in World War II, this work is Benton’s patriotic testament to the strength of the American spirit in the face of the destructive powers of war.  This painting is on view in The Helen Murchison and Edward W. Lane, Jr. Gallery of Impressionist and Modern Art.

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