Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

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Paul Getty Museum. March 12, Christopher Knight.

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Dance in L. And then unfortunately just before the Zink from this movement was started his mother showed up in Paris found out that he had a mistress and took him home. So Benton missed and missed out on the creation of synchronicity. But in in when McDonald-Wright came back to the United States he picked up the singer from his style and made purely abstract paintings. But there are some remarkable paintings in this room and this is a painting that was done for actually the den of a sportsman named Briggs who was interested in fishing and that kind of thing.

Ironically though Benton and I you know when I started work on Benton he was described as a mere realist. And he was particularly active in this kind of exploration. And remained a friend. Benton throughout his life was fascinated by trains and in fact the earliest work by Thomas Hart Benton. A drawing that he did when he was nine years old when his family made a stopover in Forney to Oklahoma on their way to Texas to see his grandparents and he sketched a locomotive.

And it was so impressive that the ladies that they were staying with saved it. And it is so accurate. And I think this is a fascinating opinion.

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This is not exactly the way a real locomotive looks. And then you have these telegraph lines which are suggesting the way electrical impulses can communicate even more quickly across these vast distances. And I guess as I say art historians look at paintings probably differently than private collectors do. But I would have to say that if I was thinking of a cover for a survey of American Art this is a painting that I would consider seriously for that role.

An interesting why many African American artists such as Jacob Lawrence it seems to me do represent African-Americans in a stereotypical way. And I think that this is it Benton clearly thinking back to people like Shaw for us when the guy who had represented the lives of French peasants. I have gotten to know Jesse Benton his wonderful character and um yeah quite an inspiration.

I am not going to try to explain all of that but I can explain the basic system. Benton liked to paint with tempera and I think there are two reasons for that. One is that Benton was a fast moving sort of impatient person and temperate dries very quickly. And the other is that he had looked at Old Master paintings and at some point it occurred to him that the older they were the brighter the colors were. And then he figured that the temper holds its color better than oil does.

Benton, Pollock, and their Martha’s Vineyard connection

People sometimes criticized Benton for not using a fresco technique. Basically when he was commissioned to do a mural he would create these wooden panels which were quite laborious to construct and then stretch canvas just that canvas over them and paint and temperature. His father my seen this Benton actually fought in the Civil War fought the Confederacy but then later made most of his money as a lawyer representing union soldiers who had pension claims.

Senator Benton actually owned slaves but opposed the extension of slavery and was eventually defeated for re-election because of his opposition to the extension of slavery.

Tom and Jack Audiobook | Henry Adams |

It is sometimes maintained that Benton caricatured African-Americans in his murals. Interestingly in the early s Benton attracted a large number of African-American students who worked with him at the Art Students League. Is an African-American girl getting hospital care and then there is a Klan rally in the background. You know, her father would have things like African-American people for dinner at their home which is something that was not done in most families in Kansas City at that time and which caused a lot of negative comment.

Henry Adams: Tom and Jack, The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

So it seems to me that this is something that people have gotten completely backwards and I think that at a time when Benton was viewed as the follower of abstract painting even though ostensibly you were supposed to leave biography out of the judgment or works of art. I think that there was a real very conscious effort to sort of vilify and defame him and very much the view that anyone here has a Southern accent has to be a bigot and that we can just dismiss people on that basis.

I think a lot of it just has to do with dating paintings and that kind of thing. Fortunately he was a remarkable writer and um at the time of his death was working on an autobiography called the intimate story where he gets into got quite intimate matters about his. And the turning point occurs in nineteen twenty four when Benton went back to Missouri to visit his father who was dying of throat cancer which of course is sort of strange cruel for someone who had been a politician. You know what.

Tom and Jack : The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

It had basically lifts were his words. And in nineteen twenty six he took a walking trip through the Ozarks and then went out to border Texas and made drawings and then in nineteen twenty eight he basically set off with a student and left his wife for more than six months with no news about when he was going to come back and travel around the United States making sketches.

And um and was very encouraging. You know in the early phase as a career Jackson Pollock said. He grew up in a household which was very suspicious of corporate and government authority and had a sort of instinctive frontier rebellious stance to it. He was in Paris. He spent the summer before he returned to the United States in the south of France. He later in his life he went back and traveled but in France and Italy.

But that was much later. But he certainly knows about collage. And there must have been other people working with the assemblage at that point.