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Boomtown

1928
46 1/8 x 54 1/4 in. (117.2 x 137.8 cm)

Thomas Hart Benton
American (Neosho, MO, 1889 - 1975, Kansas City, MO)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Egg yolk and oil on canvas
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1951.1
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object
Collection: Encyclopedia Britannica Collection

Early in his career, Thomas Hart Benton was involved in the American abstract movement, Synchromism. In the 1920s, Benton embarked on a style that incorporated Synchromist rhythmic line and expressive color with representational imagery of rural America. With this major shift in style, Benton established the Regionalist movement. Many consider Boomtown to be the artist’s first Regionalist masterpiece.
[Gallery label text, 2007]

Boomtown is one of the masterpieces of the Gallery's collection because of its impressive and unique depiction of an American landscape. When Thomas Hart Benton sketched this panoramic scene from a second floor window, the smoky fire on the horizon signified progress, not pollution. Borger, Texas was a boomtown that sprang to life in 1926 after a refinery company hit a gusher that produced 5000 gallons of oil a day.

Benton is one of the three major American Regionalists (the other two are Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry), so called because most of their subjects were about life in the rural heartland of America.

While Benton was not a fan of contemporary modernist painting, and in fact disdained artists who painted in the abstract style, he couldn't help but be influenced by the curvy and streamlined aesthetic of his times and the way in which artists were reinterpreting three-dimensional space. Consider the way in which the people, buildings and landscape are layered from top to bottom on the canvas, rather than being laid out carefully from front to back in the manner of traditional artistic renderings.

[Gallery label text, 2006]

Marks
Artist's signature, lower right: Benton


Provenance
Ferargil Galleries, New York, by 1935; purchased by The Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting, Chicago, IL, by 1944; purchased by Senator William Benton, CT, 1948; purchased by the Gallery in 1951

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Audio Description of Thomas Hart Benton's painting Boomtown Thomas Hart Benton's painting Boomtown is described in detail for the visually impaired visitor.
Art Alive: Boomtown Using MAG's Learning to Look/Looking to Learn philosophy, guide students' looking and use open-ended questions to elicit personal responses. Includes many suggestions for classroom activities and connections to reinforce ELA skills.
Seeing America Inservice Materials from a teacher in-service presentation Spring 2008
Seeing America Chapter on Thomas Hart Benton's Boomtown, written by Henry Adams.
MAGexplore MAGexplore provides in-depth information and close looking at over 200 objects in MAG's collection.


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