We went to visit JC Gallery in the heart of Mayfair to view a fascinating new exhibition of lithographic works by Thomas Hart Benton on view until May 26.
Thomas Hart Benton, an American painter and muralist, left a lasting mark on the art world over his 60-year career, celebrating the rural regions of America and the working-class communities that inhabited them.
Born into a political family in Neosho, Missouri in 1889, Benton chose to follow his passion for art, defying family expectations and ultimately becoming a prominent figure in the American Regionalism movement. His intricate El Greco-inspired portrayals of often overlooked and marginalised areas of American life captured the essence of rural America and its people, while also influencing generations of artists who would follow in his footsteps.
The new exhibition at JC Gallery in Mayfair explores Benton’s profound impact on American Regionalism, a movement that embraced the post-war disillusionment with the destructive power of machine technology and celebrated the connection to the land and the sometimes controversial history of rural America.
By depicting working men and women with the same intense detail and beauty as the angelic biblical figures adorning European chapels, Benton’s art continues to inspire generations of artists.
Throughout his career, Benton honed his skills alongside artists such as Diego Rivera and Stanton Macdonald-Wright, who were part of the emerging Synchromism movement. Synchromism was an avant-garde art movement that likened color to music, creating abstract paintings using rhythmic color forms and harmonies, with some works being purely abstract and others containing representational imagery.
He also mentored future artists like Jackson Pollock at the Art Students League of New York. His contributions to American painting during World War I and World War II, as well as his work on murals that portrayed both the best and worst aspects of a region’s history, solidified his status as a prominent American Regionalist artist.
The exhibition at JC Gallery showcases a curated selection of signed lithographs by Benton, as well as photography of the artist in his studio. It aims to foster a dialogue about art, culture, and society while exploring the nuances and complexities of Benton’s artistic contributions to American Modernism and Regionalism.
As the gallery embraces its new direction, focusing on American Modernism, it seeks to celebrate the artistic contributions of American artists who have left a lasting impact on the creative landscape, while also introducing the works of emerging talents who continue to redefine and shape the art world today.
Thomas Hart Benton’s artistic legacy lives on as a testament to his passion for capturing the spirit of rural America and the people who inhabited it. His enduring impact on American painting is evident in the contributions he made to the generations of artists under his guidance, who continued to challenge and perpetuate the distinct American way of being in the art world. This exhibition invites you to explore the rich history and fascinating stories of American Modernism and the enduring impact of Thomas Hart Benton.