This ambitious exhibition of Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975), the first in more than twenty-five years, reveals the important but overlooked connection between Benton’s experience working for the film industry and his career as an artist. Until now, no exhibition has presented the allure of Benton’s paintings as cinematic in their content and composition, or compared the fascinating technical underpinnings of Benton’s canvases to the cinematic process itself.
Around 1917, Benton worked on silent movie stage sets in Fort Lee, New Jersey—the first “Hollywood.” Between 1937, when Life magazine sent the artist to Hollywood on commission, and 1954, Benton painted five major works for projects related to motion pictures. This exhibition is the first to connect these experiences to the rest of the artist’s career. Benton was acutely aware of contemporary storytelling’s shift toward movies, and he developed a cinematic style of painting that melded art historical traditions with more recent movie-production techniques to tell stories that appealed to a broad swath of Americans.
Supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood includes approximately one hundred works by this quintessential American artist: fifty paintings and murals along with a selection of his drawings, prints, and illustrated books. In addition, the exhibition presents rarely seen archival photographs and related ephemera, as well as film clips and stills.
American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Salem, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (NAMA), and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth,
For further information on Thomas Hart Benton and his work, we recommend three sources:
The Peabody Essex Museum audio PEM podcast (16.24) that accompanies this promotional piece is quite good: http://connected.pem.org/pemcast-005-epic-american/
Cinematographer John Bailey Blog:
http://www.theasc.com/site/blog/america-today- part-2- thomas-hart- benton-before- and-after/
Ken Burns Film: Thomas Hart Benton (Madison Public Library, LINKcat and Netflix)
+ + + + +
10:30 AM Curator Lecture: We will be attending a 45-minute exhibition preview lecture by Brandon Rudd, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Constance and Dudley J Godfrey Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts followed by self-guided tours of the exhibit.
11:00 AM – 1:30 PM Free Time for Visiting the American Epics Exhibition and Enjoying Lunch
Lunch will be on your own with some suggestions listed below:
Within the Milwaukee Art Museum include…
Whether for a quick bite or a full meal, Café Calatrava is the place to dine along Lake Michigan, with views that take your breath away and an ever-changing menu of contemporary cuisine. Eat outside on the scenic patio overlooking Lake Michigan during warmer months.
See drink menu
Windhover Coffee—featuring Stone Creek Coffee
Open at 10 a.m., closes one-half hour before the Museum
Recharge at Windhover Coffee, located in the southeast corner of Windhover Hall, overlooking Lake Michigan. Our friendly baristas serve locally roasted coffee from our full espresso bar, beverages, snacks, and fresh pastries from independent local bakeries. Windhover Coffee offers sandwiches and salads, made to order.
East End Wine Bar
Open at 10 a.m., Relax at the East End Wine Bar, located in the northeast corner of the new East End addition, overlooking Lake Michigan. The wine bar serves Stone Creek Coffee, craft and imported beer, international wines, gourmet tea by Rare Tea Cellar, and fresh desserts from Rocket Baby Bakery. Enjoy European-style small plates prepared before you at the bar.
Outside and within easy walking distance of the Milwaukee Art Museum:
Harbor House 550 Harbor House Drive (next to the Museum): http://www.harborhousemke.com/
+ + + + +
Back by Popular Demand
The Four Docents Who Wowed Us with Their Knowledge and Charm Return
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Docent-led Architectural/Collection Highlights Tour
+ + + + +
~ ~ ~ American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood Itinerary ~ ~ ~
Bear in mind that our boarding bus route is like Madison Metro or any other municipal bus service. Please arrive early at your boarding stop so you don’t miss the bus. When everyone is aboard and seated, we leave. Arrive early and we will all arrive on time to begin our Milwaukee Art Museum visit.
– Don’t be late. We can wait just 5 minutes at any one location.
– Pack water bottles and snacks for sustenance on the journey.
7:20 AM Begin bus boarding at Oakwood Village University Woods
7:50 AM Bus arrives at Capitol Lakes for boarding.
8:20 M Bus arrives at East Towne Shopko for boarding.
8:30 AM Bus departs for Milwaukee (Or, sooner if everyone is aboard)
10:00 AM Arrive at Milwaukee Art Museum
10:30 AM - 11:15 AM Curator Lecture
11:15 AM - 1:30 PM Free time to visit the American Epics Exhibition and enjoy lunch.
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Docent-led Architectural/Collections Highlights Tour
2:30 PM - 2:55 PM Museum Store Visit
2:55 PM Begin boarding bus
3:00 PM Depart for Madison
Arrive Madison (Estimated)
4:40 PM East Towne Shopko
5:00 PM Capitol Lakes
5:20 PM Oakwood Village University Woods
Accessibility Policy: On the Badger Bus, you must be able to climb steps to board and exit the bus. If you need assistance, we recommend that you bring a friend to give you a hand. The Milwaukee Art Museum is handicapped accessible.
Non-Member Policy. Members must register their guests. Each PLATO member is entitled to bring one non-member guest per bus trip. (Members may bring more than one guest near the registration Deadline Date if seats are available. Check with trip organizer.) Non-member guests pay an additional $15.00 registration fee. PLATO Membership is $60.00/year.
For further information, contact American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood field trip organizer, Jane Sheehan, email@example.com and 608-836-0998
Mail-In Registration Forms*
* payment and mailing instructions are on the form.