Jessie Benton let me know, as I stood valuing its direct perfection and limit. Jessie, Thomas Hart Benton’s daughter and more energetic adolescent, now a diminish looked toward and fiery woman of 75, is the exemplification of her people’s mixed manners, the solid Midwestern father, the shrewd Italian mother. “He developed the divider, and all that stonework himself, with the objective that we could walk around to our vessel or go swimming,” she went on. What’s more, after that she looked at the lake and looked into island, smiling with satisfaction.
It was Thomas Hart Benton’s world too, this irritable man at first went to the island in 1920, with his loved one to-be, Rita, and they spent about each mid year there until his going in 1975, adequately picking up themselves the hard-won task as islanders. Given the time period he spent there, and his pieces of the place that are the wound obliquities of an expert, he could be situated by Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth as a shoreline New England painter. The over-fundamental name of Benton as a Regionalist, one he once got a handle on himself, disregards the principle issue. The ten sheets of America Today, his most basic divider painting, exhibit Benton as a painter celebrating and from time to time researching the whole of American life.
The word painting means related to a divider, and calls up the vision of a singular inquisitively vast painting. This is beguiling because of America Today, which is a whole painted room, four dividers, ten sheets, floor to rooftop. Like all magnificent workmanship, the divider painting does not rehash all around; spoke to it is lessen and enhanced, its tones false, much detail lost. Every single ideal show-stopper must be seen at firsthand. This was the reason behind the Grand Tour. The reason people still visit the monstrous chronicled focuses of the world and they find, as I did with America Today, that being in that room, encased by those terrific dividers, is the way Benton thought about his errand: not as a plan of pictures but instead as a revived space. It must be seen that way for its subtlety to be esteemed and the full energy of its shading and exuberance to be experienced. That is possible now for anyone adequately blessed to be in New York City.
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