Edited with an introduction by R. Douglas Hurt and Mary K. Dains
Published during the centennial year of Thomas Hart Benton’s birth, this volume focuses on an artist who continues to win praise from his admirers, provoke animosity from his critics, and create controversy whenever those in both groups attempt to discuss his art, writing, or ideas. Even though the style and the content of Benton’s paintings and murals are no longer fashionable among most artists, the controversial nature of his art and writing continues to place him among the leaders of arts and letters. What he painted, wrote, and said is so powerful and pugnacious that it will not fade away. No matter whether a viewer or reader considers Benton’s work to be good or bad, it retains as much power as ever to provoke thought, and with it evaluation and reflection.
Eight scholars provide a fresh evaluation of Benton and his work in this volume. The result is eight highly compelling essays—both scholarly and personal—that are eclectic in subject matter. The contributors have gone beyond the mere recognition of Benton’s positive and negative attributes. They have analyzed his life and work within the historical context of his time, and they have provided a new, reasoned, and provocative understanding of Thomas Hart Benton as an artist, writer, and intellectual.