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America Today by Thomas Hart Benton-

I used to love the fact that America Today greeted guests (and any passersby) in this lobby. Controversial in its day, I was impressed with New York that it was up for public consumption. Then one day it was gone. No one could tell me why, I was confused and hurt. (ok maybe not hurt).

Until late last year it was finally revealed- America Today was sold, and acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art! A huge sigh of relief that the piece was going toward an institution that totally gets it. I’ll miss it’s effectiveness and meaning of being stationed in a lobby, but also glad it wasn’t sold to private hands.

Painter Thomas Hart Benton was known as a Regionalist, painting day to day life of the United States. He considered himself an enemy of modernism, and did not edit his painting of “everyday American life”- which included paintings of Ku Klux Klan members- without disdain nor empathy.

The mural here, “America Today,” was heavily influenced by El Greco (whom I love, the color palette is evident of this). A panoramic interpretation of America during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, the popularization of this mural helped sparked the mural program of the Works Project Administration. His murals  and teaching career at the National Arts League heavily inspired such artists as Diego Rivera, Dennis Hopper and Jackson Pollock.

Who: Thomas Hart Benton

What: America Today

Where:  Famously at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, lobby- now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

2 Responses to “America Today by Thomas Hart Benton-”
  1. SO glad that Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today is not lost…and instead found its way into @metmuseum’s collection

  2. America Today by Thomas Hart Benton- via @artnerdnewyork

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