Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thomas Hart Benton An American Original

(Kansas City)  I recall enjoying the brisk September air, and that flap jacks were sitting heavy in my stomach.  I had just eaten at a local greasy spoon.  I was enamored with all of the big pretty white suburban houses.   Then, I chanced upon the former residence of Thomas Hart Benton.   I had no idea who he was.  I decided to go and visit and find out!   I am glad I did.  His studio was left just as if he had gone out for an errand, downtown.  Coffee cans held paintbrushes.  His studio was a  place where work had been done, not necessarily orderly and clean. A place reserved for creative expression.  Thomas Hart Benton embodied the Western Landscape just like the buffalo did long ago.

 Thomas Hart Benton
on the model for Susana: 
"that delightful hillbilly girl (a true Ozark product gone wrong) who became the model for "Susannah" - My boy- what a skin what a blood pulsing skin - just enough yellow in the belly to make the tits look pink - we don't find models like that anymore."
on his art 
"We were different in our temperaments and many of our ideas, be we were alike in that we were all in revolt against the unhappy effects which the Armory Show of 1913 had had on American painting.  We objected to the new Parisian aesthetics which was more and more turning art away from the living world of active men and women into an academic world of empty patterns."

Simpson Marc, Sally Mills and Jennifer Saville The American Canvas Paintings from the Collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1989), 218.

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