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The Arts of Life in America: Arts of the South—Study

Benton, T.H.
The Arts of Life in America: Arts of the South—Study
signed 'Benton' (lower right)
oil on board
9 x 14 3/8 in. (22.9 x 36.5 cm.)
Painted in 1932.
The artist.
Private collection, Fort Worth, Texas, acquired from the above.
Gift to the present owner from the above.
D.B. Goodall, Paintings, Drawings and Prints..., Aledo, Texas, 1973.
From the Collection of..., 1994, pp. 6, 22, illustrated (as Arts of the South).
Lawrence, Kansas, University of Kansas Museum of Art, Mural Painting- Preliminary Studies and Sketches, April 15-May 7, 1959.
Fort Worth, Texas, Fort Worth Art Center, The Museum and the Private Collector, April 4-May 1, 1966 (as Study for Arts of South Mural #4).
Fort Worth, Texas, The Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth-Dallas Collectors, August 14-September 25, 1977.
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Thomas Hart Benton Catalogue Raisonné Foundation. Committee Members: Dr. Henry Adams, Jessie Benton, Anthony Benton Gude, Andrew Thompson and Michael Owen.

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Lot Essay

The present work is a study for Thomas Hart Benton's Arts of the South from his 1932 mural cycle The Arts of Life in America. Commissioned for the library of the Whitney Museum of American Art, then located on 8th Street in New York City, the works depict Regionalist scenes of the arts in daily American life. Of these works Benton wrote: "These popular outpourings have a sort of pulse, a go and come, a rhythm; and all are expressions—indirectly, assertions of value. They are undisciplined, uncritical, and generally deficient in technical means; but they are arts just the same." (as quoted in H. Adams, Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, New York, 1989, p. 185) Rather than highlighting 'high art,' Benton celebrates the art made by everyday Americans amid the Great Depression. Arts of the South features music, focusing on a Holy Roller service surrounded by crapshooters, Black singers, and a resting farmer before a church. The present work is a study for the finished composition, now in the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut.

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