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Thomas Hart Benton

male 1889-1975
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Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was born in Neosho, Missouri. He was the son of a U.S. Congressman and the nephew of a Missouri Senator, though he did not aspire to go into politics. Instead he enrolled in 1907 at the Art Institute of Chicago and left in 1909 for the academie Julian in Paris. He was drafted into the Navy in 1919, dramatically changing his political views, which is evident in the theme of his work. He became an “enemy to realism” and moved toward Regionalism. He depicted Midwestern scenes with almost cartoon-like figures. He taught at the Art Students League and then moved from New York to teach at the Kansas City Art Institute where he was an instructor of Jackson Pollock. In 1933, he exhibited a large mural entitled “the Indiana Murals” at the Century of Progress Exhibit in Chicago, Illinois. The mural depicted everyday and Indiana State Fair Grounds until they were purchased by Indiana University. The panel “Parks, the Circus, the Clan, the Press” is hanging in the auditorium on the Bloomington campus, where it periodically causes controversy.

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