Thomas Hart Benton: A Life | KCUR

Thomas Hart Benton: A Life

Apr 5, 2012

If you’ve visited the Missouri State Capitol building you probably saw his work. If you’ve spent time in midtown, you might have driven by his house.

If you’ve ever been a student at our art institute, you’ve studied in a place where he taught...until he lost the job.

Today Justin Wolff, an assistant professor of art history at the University of Maine, talks about a Missouri native son: renowned painter Thomas Hart Benton.

By the mid-1930s, Benton’s heroic murals were featured in galleries, statehouses, universities, and museums. But even as the nation learned his name, he was often scorned by critics and political commentators who found him too nationalistic and his art too regressive.

Hear More: Justin Wolff speaks about Thomas Hart Benton on Thursday April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Library Central branch, 14 W. 10th Street, Kansas City, Mo. A free 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Click here for more information.

Justin Wolff received his Ph.D. in Art History from Princeton University. His research interests include American art, modern art, and art theory and criticism, with a particular focus on the intersection of art, populism, and politics. His publications include Richard Caton Woodville: American Painter, Artful Dodger (Princeton University Press, 2002) and “The Politics of American Modernism,” a chapter in Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, the catalogue accompanying an international exhibition organized by the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Justin's latest book, Thomas Hart Benton: A Life, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in March 2012. He has also published reviews and criticism in numerous newspapers and journals. Before coming to UMaine, Justin taught in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard University, served as the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Assistant Professor of Art History at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, from 2006 to 2008, and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship in 2005. At UMaine, he teaches courses on modern and contemporary art and art theory and criticism.