Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

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  • Tom And Jack: The Intertwined Lives Of Thomas Hart Benton And Jackson Pollock.
  • Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock.
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Henry Adams: Tom and Jack, The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

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Benton sitting in front of his artwork. Benton—who by then had abandoned the pretensions of his Paris days and adopted the persona of a gruff, hard-drinking Midwesterner—hated the elitism of the art world and its growing taste for abstraction. He wanted to create a distinctly American form of art that drew on the richness of the objective world and that would appeal to the common man and address universal themes.

But despite his popular success, the guardians of high art rejected his work as sentimental and cartoonish. Benton in his Kansas City studio, working on his mural Lincoln In , at the height of his fame, Benton left New York to become the head of the painting department at the Kansas City Art Institute.

He started experimenting with abstraction and, in , Peggy Guggenheim, gallery owner and champion of American modern art, gave Pollock his first major commission— the square-foot modernist piece Mural. That would come in Realism and American Regionalism had given way to the avant-garde and Abstract Expressionism, an American school of art that accomplished what Benton had originally set out to do: shift the center of gravity in the art world from Europe to America while creating a distinctly American artistic idiom.

Introducing Tom & Jack

By then, Benton was considered a has-been and reactionary; Pollock represented the future of art. Pollock himself perpetuated that idea. But the story is more complicated than that. Around he told a friend, artist Harry Jackson, that his intention for Mural was to paint a stampede of horses, but he lost control of the painting because he lacked the discipline and skill to execute a figurative mural.

He was painfully aware of not being able to do it the way he wished and he was determined to do it the way he could.