Thomas Hart Benton
Born in Neosho, Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton is probably best known for his murals associated with the American Scene Painting movement of the 1930s. A leader of the Regionalism movement in American Art, his vivid style portrayed pre-industrial agrarian life.
In 1908, Benton went to Paris, France, to study art. He returned home to Missouri, but was sent off to New York where he struggled to find his artistic voice. Returning to Missouri in 1924 to care for his father, Benton discovered the “Americana” that would define his artistic style.
Through his work, Benton made observations about the plight of the poor, rural American.
His focus made a hero of the everyman. The rich and powerful were often vilified in his paintings.
His emphasis on the plight of the working class in the post-Depression era earned him a reputation as a social activist, and he gained publicity through public works projects.
In 1935, he returned to Missouri to take a teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute. In Kansas City, he painted some of his most well-known works such as the Independence Murals and the Truman Library. He lived in Kansas City until his death in 1975.
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