Springfield Library and Museums Association

Springfield, MA




On the Road with Thomas Hart Benton: Images of a Changing America


Scenes of America during the 1920s and '30s will be on display at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts from November 14, 1999 through January 9, 2000 in the special exhibition On the Road with Thomas Hart Benton: Images of a Changing America.

The exhibition features more than 75 of Benton's (1889-1975) paintings, lithographs and drawings from his travels throughout the United States. Driven by the conviction that the nation was sacrificing its unique regional culture in its rush to become a modern society, Benton set out to capture the essence of contemporary America.

He used drawing as a central element in his travels, sketching the daily life he encountered on the back roads and in the isolated cultural pockets of America. Later, he incorporated details from these drawings into his major paintings and mural projects. By 1934, Benton had become one of the most recognized artists in America and was selected to be the first artist featured on the cover of Time magazine.

In his drawings, Benton is both artist and historian, documenting America's transition from a rural, agricultural nation at the turn of the century to an urban, industrialized world power that prided itself on its skyscrapers, factories, and highways.

The works in the exhibition were selected from the collection of Thomas Hart Benton's estate in Kansas City. On the Road with Thomas Hart Benton. Images of a Changing America was organized by the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, and is being traveled by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services in Kansas City, Missouri. The Springfield showing of the exhibition is sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

From top to bottom: Study for Romance, egg tempera and oil on board, c. 1931-32; Study for Trail Riders, oil on canvas, 1963; Flight of the Thielens, oil and tempera on board, 1938.

See also Thomas Hart Benton, On the Road with Thomas Hart Benton: Images of a Changing America (9/10/99) and Lasting Impressions: Drawings by Thomas Hart Benton (10/98).

If you are interested in "American Scene" art of the 1930s and 40s you may enjoy the WPA Period Print Collection Directory from the University of Montana. See also an article on the Museum of Art Tallahassee website.

More web resources on Benton:


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Read more about the Springfield Library and Museums Association in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/26/10

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