Exhibitions

Thomas Hart Benton, Self-Portrait with Rita (1922)

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Art Resource, NY. Works of Art by Thomas Hart Benton are © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood

On view June 6, 2015 to September 7, 2015

Located in the: Special Exhibition Galleries

This is the first major exhibition on Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) in more than 25 years and the first to explore important connections between Benton's art and the movies. After working briefly in the silent film industry, Benton became acutely aware of storytelling's shift toward motion pictures and developed a cinematic style of painting that melded European art historical traditions and modern movie production techniques. In paintings, murals, drawings, prints and illustrated books, Benton reinvented national narratives for 20th-century America and captivated the public with his visual storytelling.

Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Forth Worth, Texas.

The exhibition was made possible in part by Bank of America and a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. The National Endowment for the Arts and Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation provided generous support. Christie's provided in-kind support. The East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum also provided support.

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Images

Thomas Hart Benton, Bootleggers, 1927.

Thomas Hart Benton, Bootleggers, 1927.

Egg Tempera and oil on linen, mounted on Masonite panel. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winton Salem, North Carolina, Museum purchase with funds provided by Barbara B. Millhouse.

Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank Trustee/License by VAGA, New York, NY

Thomas Hart Benton, Lewis and Clark at Eagle Creek, 1967.

Thomas Hart Benton, Lewis and Clark at Eagle Creek, 1967.

Polymer and tempera on Masonite panel. Courtesy of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank Trustee/License by VAGA, New York, NY

Thomas Hart Benton, Portrait of a Musician, 1949.

Thomas Hart Benton, Portrait of a Musician, 1949.

Casein, egg tempera, and oil varnish on canvas, mounted on wood panel. 48 1/2 x 32 in.

Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia, Anonymous gift.

Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank Trustee/License by VAGA, New York, NY

Thomas Hart Benton, Hollywood, 1937-38

Thomas Hart Benton, Hollywood, 1937-38

Tempera with oil on canvas, mounted on board

56 x 84 in.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Bequest of the artist. Photo by Jamison Miller. Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank Trustee/License by VAGA, New York, NY

Thomas Hart Benton, Self-Portrait with Rita (1922)

Thomas Hart Benton, Self-Portrait with Rita (1922)

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Art Resource, NY. Works of Art by Thomas Hart Benton are © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Related Events

Thomas Hart Benton and American Storytelling ›
PUBLIC DISCUSSION DAY
Friday, June 5, 2015 from 10am - 4pm
Reservations by June 4

Explore the art of American storytelling from the perspectives of film critics, scholars of American art and culture, production designers, writers and special guests Jessie Benton, the artist's daughter, and author Paul Theroux.

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood ›
Opening Day
Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 10am - 5pm

Included with museum admission

Thomas Hart Benton painted stories about American people and mined Hollywood for his signature style. Through music, film and conversations with the curators, discover how Benton played a leading role in 20th-century American art.

 

EXHIBITION OPEN

10 am-5 pm | Special Exhibition Galleries | Level 3

 

MUSIC PERFORMANCE

The Root Farmers
Noon-1:30 pm | Atrium

Enjoy traditional fiddle styles including Appalachian old-time, blues, bluegrass, Cajun, Irish and swing.

 

PRESENTATION

In Conversation with Curators of Art and Film  
2-3 pm | Morse Auditorium
Reservations by June 4

Join Austen Barron Bailly, The George Putnam Curator of American Art and exhibition lead curator, and film expert Matthew Bernstein as they explore the deep connection between Benton's art and Hollywood, as well as Bernstein's role as film curator for the exhibition. Bailly and Bernstein segue to an in-depth discussion of The Grapes of Wrath.

 

FILM

The Grapes of Wrath
3:30-6 pm | Morse Auditorium
Reservations by June 4

The Grapes of Wrath is director John Ford's classic adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton. This film, starring Henry Fonda, captures the impact of the Great Depression on one representative family - the Joads. 1940, 129 minutes. Introduction by film expert Matthew Bernstein.

 

Made possible by The Lowell Institute

Members-Only Gallery Talk ›
American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 from 9am - 10am
Reservations by June 16

Members $15

Austen Barron Bailly, The George Putnam Curator of American Art and lead curator of the exhibition, leads this talk before the museum opens.

Further Reading