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Cave Spring

Art © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / UMB Bank Trustee / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

Cave Spring

Artist: Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975)
Culture: American
Date: 1963
Medium: Tempera on panel
11 5/8 x 15 inches (29.5 x 38.1 cm)
Frame: 21 1/4 x 24 3/4 x 1 7/8 inches (54 x 62.9 x 4.8 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Bequest of Louise and Alvin Myerberg
Label Text:This work is likely a depiction of rural Missouri where Thomas Hart Benton grew up. The Midwest was a constant source of inspiration for the artist, and here you can see the characteristic big sky, flat plains and low horizon. Benton is also known for honoring the dignity of laborers in his paintings. He was a key member of the Federal Art Project created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to boost the U.S. economy after the Great Depression.

Benton was the primary figure in the American Regionalist movement. At a moment when abstraction was becoming the dominant art form, he stubbornly maintained a representational style, focusing on typical American scenes, landscapes and common people. Benton believed only a figurative style could show "the primary reality of American life."

Though Benton focused on the U.S. as his subject, he was influenced by great European artists like El Greco, Michelangelo and Tintoretto. The influence of their Mannerist styles is evident in the elongated forms, strong contrasts between dark and light, unusual color juxtapositions and flattened, distorted space.

Object number: 2010.3.2