Thomas Hart Benton (American 1889-1975), "Loading Corn" 1945 (probably Missouri), Association of American Artist lithograph, edition of 250, 9 9/16" x 12 3/4", full margins, excellent condition, matte, pencil signed.
Benton, Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry are now considered the leading American Regionalist artists. They shared a driving interest to develop a truly American style of artistic expression separate from European influences. They drew inspiration from the landscapes they knew best in their native Midwest. Their images of a prosperous rural culture were popular with the American public during the difficult years of the Depression. There was a parallel movement in American literature of the time, as evidenced in the work of writers such as Sinclair Lewis. Benton was born and raised in Missouri. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and in Paris, learning to work in the abstract style current at the time. He soon reacted against abstraction and the primacy of European art, developing instead a personal style. He captured the American spirit by focussing on everyday life in small towns and on farms, often drawing inspiration from local folklore and legends. His images are realistic and generally narrative, yet softened by his rounded forms and uneven lines.
Thomas Hart Benton was born in 1889. He began his artistic career with training at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1906-7 and then went to Academie Julian in 1908-11. While in Europe he was influenced by works of El Greco and the Italian Renaissance, which later appeared in the figural distortions of his mature work. During his early stages, Benton experimented with many Modernist styles before rejecting it all for being too esoteric and distorted. He held a very abrasive attitude towards abstraction. Unfortunately, much of his early work was destroyed in a fire in 1913. Benton's paintings reflect a Realist attitude meant to be a reminder of the strength of the American people with a dynamic, changing character. In the 1920s he developed his style of jerky figured, long limbed bodies in muralistic settings, which were meant to draw viewers into a powerful narrative. A joint exhibition with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry helped Benton acquire fame as a Regionalist painter. He also taught at the Kansas City Art Institute, School of Art and Design and the Art Students League and mentored Jackson Pollack. In 1942 Benton produced an anti-fascist series called "The Year of the Peril" that were reproduced by the U.S. government on stamps, cards and posters. Thomas Hart Benton died in 1975.