American epics Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood

Book - 2015

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Subjects
Published
Salem, Massachusetts : Munich ; New York : Peabody Essex Museum [2015]
Language
English
Item Description
"American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood accompanies the exhibition of the same name, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas"--Colophon.
Physical Description
239 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits ; 29 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 226-229) and index.
ISBN
9783791354224
3791354221
9783791365817
3791365819
Other Authors
Austen Barron Bailly (-), Thomas Hart Benton, 1889-1975
Review by Choice Reviews

Using quality reproductions of paintings and details, film stills, period pictures, advertisements, book illustrations, and covers, Bailly (curator American art, Peabody Essex Museum) and 12 other contributors demonstrate how Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was influenced by, and in turn influenced, Hollywood.  After work in silent pictures circa 1915 and later in 1937 as a famous artist, he had a lifelong association with Hollywood.  The book shows how his famous stylized, exaggerated forms have many similarities to larger-than-life techniques used by the cinema.  The mythic West was a major theme for him and for movies.  Benton's visions of the American frontier were similar to director John Ford's visions of the West.  He illustrated The Grapes of Wrath and he promoted Ford's film.  Benton's approach to African American culture and racism were forward looking.  WW II paintings are also explored.  A time line including many pictures relates Benton to major cultural events of the 20th century.  This engaging study of a little-known, long-standing relationship is a fascinating addition to American art history and cinema studies.  Benton's position in American culture is revitalized.  Includes notes with citations to numerous sources and a selected bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. --W. L. Whitwell, formerly, Hollins College William L. Whitwell formerly, Hollins College http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.192761 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975) was a patriotic Midwestern painter who depicted the lives of ordinary Americans in colorful narrative tableaux. His elongated, wobbly figures show an El Greco influence, and his politics bent him toward working-class subjects, resulting in distinctly lumpy-looking lumpenproletariat. Hollywood has occasionally looked to the fine arts for aesthetic inspiration; Benton, who labored as a handyman for movie studios Pathé and Fox, was close with the silent-era director Rex Ingram and, later, with noted auteur John Ford. This extensively illustrated book breaks new ground by delving into Benton's rocky relationship to mainstream movies. Although he disliked Los Angeles and eventually returned to his beloved Missouri, he devoted considerable energy to depicting filmmaking and actors during an extended sojourn in Hollywood, and was commissioned by Ford to create promotional murals for The Grapes of Wrath. Over a dozen essayists chronicle Benton's Hollywood collaborations, explaining effectively how his narrative approach to static imagery—compared with old masters such as Tintoretto—privileged his appeal to movie moguls, while his grotesque realism was at odds with the "dream factory" ideal. The prestige he carried wore thin, and to the credit of Peabody Essex Museum editor/curator Bailly, the book doesn't shy away from dealing with the decidedly grim, racist propaganda that infused Benton's painting at the height of World War II. VERDICT A piercing look at a singular American painter, casting light on the odd, flawed symbiosis between showbiz and fine art.—Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L. [Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This generously illustrated book explores the connections between Thomas Hart Benton’s art and Hollywood movies from groundbreaking perspectives. Thomas Hart Benton was a thoroughly American artist. His regionally focused paintings and murals depicted everyday American life as well as the country’s history. This volume focuses on one of the most American of Benton’s associations: Hollywood. Not only did Benton create commissioned murals and portraits of film stars and movies, but he also developed a style that was highly theatrical and narrative. This volume is the first to collect all the works conceived by Benton for the film industry. It includes related ephemera, photographs, and documents of Benton at work, along with a series of thought-provoking essays that explore a diverse array of topics—from Benton’s engagement with American identity from the 1920s to the 1960s, to parallels between Benton’s use of Old Master methods and film production techniques. Fans of Thomas Hart Benton will find surprising insights into his career, while those fascinated by Hollywood history will discover how one of America’s most revered artists shaped and was in turn influenced by the film industry.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This generously illustrated book explores the connections between Thomas Hart Benton's art and Hollywood movies from groundbreaking perspectives. Fans of Thomas Hart Benton will find surprising insights into his career, while those fascinated by Hollywood history will discover how one of America's most revered artists shaped and was in turn influenced by the film industry.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This generously illustrated book explores the connections between Thomas Hart Benton’s art and Hollywood movies from groundbreaking perspectives. Thomas Hart Benton was a thoroughly American artist. His regionally focused paintings and murals depicted everyday American life as well as the country’s history. This volume focuses on one of the most American of Benton’s associations: Hollywood. Not only did Benton create commissioned murals and portraits of film stars and movies, but he also developed a style that was highly theatrical and narrative. This volume is the first to collect all the works conceived by Benton for the film industry. It includes related ephemera, photographs, and documents of Benton at work, along with a series of thought-provoking essays that explore a diverse array of topics—from Benton’s engagement with American identity from the 1920s to the 1960s, to parallels between Benton’s use of Old Master methods and film production techniques. Fans of Thomas Hart Benton will find surprising insights into his career, while those fascinated by Hollywood history will discover how one of America’s most revered artists shaped and was in turn influenced by the film industry.