A WPA 10-Panel Mural: Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Portrays A Sweeping Panorama of American Life
Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975); City Activities with Dancehall from America Today, 1930–31. Mural cycle consisting of ten panels; Egg tempera with oil glazing over Permalba on a gesso ground on linen mounted to wood panels with a honeycomb interior
The exhibition, Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered, celebrates the gift of Benton's epic mural America Today from AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in December 2012. The Missouri native painted the 10-panel mural cycle in 1930 – 31 for New York's New School for Social Research to adorn the boardroom of its modernist building on West 12th Street. It was commissioned by the New School's director, Alvin Johnson, who had fashioned the school as a center for progressive thought and education in Greenwich Village.
Depicting a sweeping panorama of American life during the 1920s, America Today ranks among Benton’s most renowned works and as one of the most significant accomplishments in American art of the period. Exhibition Location: The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery, The American Wing, Gallery 746. The exhibit runs until April 19, 2015.
"The Metropolitan's presentation of Benton's great mural sheds new light on this visually and intellectually stimulating landmark in American art of the early 1930s, especially as the Museum is displaying the mural as the artist originally intended it to be seen", stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Met.
Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum's Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, commented: "The exhibition reminds visitors that the key themes of Benton's mural — the heroic proletariat and modern industry — were greatly significant for artists in a contemporary international context, not only in the United States, but also in Mexico, and in France between the world wars."
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