Monday, February 23, 2015

Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural at the Met

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Imagine how inspiring your meetings would be if they were held in a conference room covered in colorful scenes depicting American history. Painted in 1930-31 to decorate a boardroom at the New School, the ten panels by Thomas Hart Benton currently on view at the Met show the United States through the 1920s, from the labor that fueled the nation to the advent of the railroad to the rise of the flapper and Wall Street big wig.

It's a marvel, of spatial relations, of murals, of being simultaneously critical and patriotic. We thought of a very different work of art as we strolled about the room, the poem "America," written by Allen Ginsberg several decades later: "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing . . . America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world. / Your machinery is too much for me. / You made me want to be a saint. / There must be some other way to settle this argument." 

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

Thomas Hart Benton, America Today

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