Dead Blogging ‘Thomas Hart Benton’ at PEM

Well the Missus and I trundled up to the Peabody Essex Museum to catch American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood the other day and say, it was . . . interesting.

This is the first major exhibition on Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) in more than 25 years and the first to explore important connections between Benton’s art and the movies. After working art113909webbriefly in the silent film industry, Benton became acutely aware of storytelling’s shift toward motion pictures and developed a cinematic style of painting that melded European art historical traditions and modern movie production techniques. In paintings, murals, drawings, prints and illustrated books, Benton reinvented national narratives for 20th-century America and captivated the public with his visual storytelling.

Yeah . . . except his visual storytelling was often hackneyed, according to critics, or overwrought, as in his World War II Year of Peril paintings.

Representative sample:




‘Nuf ced about that.

Benton was an odd – if celebrated – duck, and PEM’s show of his Hollywood-related work  is an odd – if well-mounted – exhibit. (Through 9/7/15)

But also at PEM . . .

Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals

One of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, Duane Michals (b. 1932) is credited with pioneering new ways of considering and creating photographs. Running counter to the prevailing conventions of photography, Michals began working with sequences of images and multiple exposures, often overlaying hand-written messages and poems. Michals identifies himself a storyteller and through his work explores universal life experiences such as dreams, desire, love and mortality. He has noted: “I’m not interested in what something looks like, I want to know what it feels like … a realm beyond observation.” Organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art, this exhibition presents more than 200 works and provides a definitive retrospective of the artist’s career.

(To be honest graf goes here)

To be honest, the photographs of Duane Michals demand much more attention than I was willing to devote to them. Regardless, they’re largely interesting, and on display until tomorrow.

Also leaving tomorrow: Audacious: The Fine Art of Wood from the Montalto Bohlen Collection. 

An amazing exhibit: Wood artifacts that look like ceramics, that look like metal, that look like vegetation, that look like – fabric?




Well worth the trip on a rainy day (as tomorrow promises to be).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dead Blogging ‘Thomas Hart Benton’ at PEM

  1. Bill Schweber says:

    Whew, I thought you were going to yet again say “and, say, it was swell,” which is right out of Little Rascals and other 1950s scripts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s