Thomas Hart Benton 2

Feb15_Benton_The_Race600x425I’ve previously posted about the American artist, Thomas Hart Benton.

Benton is part of what art historians call American Scene Painting. This was a cultural group that was part of FDRs New Deal of the 1930s. Artists became an important part of attempts to document and describe the lives of ordinary Americans in the dust-bowl and depression in the US.

This movement also provided an opportunity, across many cultural forms, to mythologise the lives and experiences of ordinary Americans…

The print image, above, is called The Race. It shows the railway locomotive and a horse, racing against each other across the mid-west. The image speaks of the anxieties attaching to progress, and the widespread understanding of technology as a form of disruptive agency…

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_ProjectPerhaps the best known of this kind of painting is Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930). The painting makes the connection between architecture and values explicit. The couple exemplify a kind of austere stoicism founded on religious belief and agricultural self-sufficiency.

These small-town themes are also found in the work of Garrison Keillor, John Adams, and even, to a certain extent, that of David Lynch.

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