Thomas Hart Benton  (American, 1889-1975) 

Thomas Hart Benton (American, April 15, 1889–January 19, 1975) was a notable muralist in the Regionalist movement. Born in the rural town of Neosho, MO, Benton achieved fame in large cities such as Paris, France and New York, NY. Widely remembered for his images representing the Midwest, Benton attended the Art Institute of Chicago in 1907 after briefly working as a cartoonist. He eventually transferred to the Julian Academy in Paris, where he was influenced by the style of Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886–1957), a prominent muralist. It was Rivera''s use of bright colors to depict socialism that inspired Benton''s style during his Regionalism years. Benton joined the Navy in 1913 as a draftsman; while there, he sketched scenes from shipyard life. In the 1920s, the artist returned to New York and began teaching at the Art Students League. It was during this time that Benton became involved in politics and worked on the pieces for which he is most famous.

Benton is best known for his association with the American Scene Painting movement of the 1930s, but he was also active in the Social Realism, American Modernism, and Synchromism movements. It was during this time that he painted a number of noteworthy murals, including America Today, an example of Benton''s wavy, cartoonish style. Most of the artist’s work focused on the post-Depression era and the plight of its working class. One of Benton''s most controversial paintings, the Indiana Murals, was a negative representation of the Ku Klux Klan, large corporations, and farmers in society. It was placed on display in Chicago, IL, at the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition. Afterwards, Benton accepted a teaching position in Kansas at the City Art Institute.

The artist’s paintings from his Kansas City years geared more towards capitalism and progress; his subject matter included railroads, cars, and city culture. Although Benton traveled the country extensively, he settled down in Kansas, which is where he remained until his death in 1975. Two years after Benton passed away, his home and studio was designated as the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site; the site is now open for public tours.

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Thomas Hart Benton, Threshing Rice


Thomas Hart Benton
Threshing Rice
circa 1926

James Reinish & Associates, Inc.
Thomas Hart Benton, Menemsha Pond


Thomas Hart Benton
Menemsha Pond
circa 1927

Galerie Bale
Thomas Hart Benton, Horse Study


Thomas Hart Benton
Horse Study
Green River Gallery
Thomas Hart Benton, Mural Study


Thomas Hart Benton
Mural Study
Green River Gallery
Thomas Hart Benton, Mural Study


Thomas Hart Benton
Mural Study
Green River Gallery
Thomas Hart Benton, Wine for Rita


Thomas Hart Benton
Wine for Rita

Lost Art Gallery
Thomas Hart Benton, Still Life


Thomas Hart Benton
Still Life
Clarke Gallery
Thomas Hart Benton, Buffalo River (Canoe with Three Men)


Thomas Hart Benton
Buffalo River (Canoe with Three Men)

James Reinish & Associates, Inc.
Thomas Hart Benton, Hen


Thomas Hart Benton
Green River Gallery
Past auction results (2875)  View All
Thomas Hart Benton, Landscape with house (Cezannesque landscape)


Thomas Hart Benton
Landscape with house (Cezannesque landscape)
watercolor on paper


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Thomas Hart Benton, Approaching Storm


Thomas Hart Benton
Approaching Storm, 1938


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Thomas Hart Benton, Letter from Overseas


Thomas Hart Benton
Letter from Overseas, 1943


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1889   Born: on April 15th in Neosho, MO
1905 - 1906   Neosho High School. (First work as an artist for Joplin American as a cartoonist.)
1907   Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL
1908 - 1911   Academie Julien, Paris, France
1918 - 1919   Draftsman for U.S. Navy
1975   Died on January 19th in Kansas City, MO
2008   Paradigms and the Unexpected: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Shey Collection, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL
2007   Modernisms, Whitney Museumof Art, New York
2007   Leaving a Mark: The Winston and Ada Eason Collection, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
2006   The John and Mary Lou Pacton Collection, Nevada Museum of Art NMA, Reno, NV
2006   A Celebration of New Yorks, Georgie O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM
2005   The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950
2004   Spirit of a Nation, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN
2004   Coming Home, First Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN
2003   Gadgets and Gizmos, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ
2003   Bridging the Border: Shared Themes in Mexican and US Art 1900-1950, Davis Museum and Cultural Center-Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
2002   The History of American Printmaking, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ
2001   Art for the Masses-Associated American Artist Prints, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
2001   Past Present Future-Notions of Time in Twentieth-Century Art, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX
2001   Eye of Modernism, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM
2000   Elements of the north American Landscape, Works on Paper from the AMAM, The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH
1999   America at Work 1945, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY
1926   Exhibition of Portraits of New England Characters.
1939    A Descriptive Catalogue of the Works of Thomas Hart Benton, by Thomas Craven, published by Associated American Artists.