Regionalism and Thomas Hart Benton

by | Sep 30, 2018

At Fine Art America, we are always looking for art that represents all four corners of the country, even those parts of the country that many people overlook, the so-called “flyover areas”, which means states in the South and the Midwest. While some people might have you believe that all of the great art takes place in either California or New York, there are great artists and works of art all over the world, even in flyover country.

During the early to mid-20th century, regionalists looked to portray their area of the world realistically, in ways that had never been seen before. The regionalists were looking to elevate the common man and woman as an art form, and they were successful in shining a spotlight on the lives of people who did not live and work in the Northeast or in the West.

Inspirations for Regionalism

Regionalism grew out of a desire in the Midwest and South, to portray the common people as they worked without dramatizing or glorifying it. Regional painters began to draw and paint people as they worked, whether it was in agriculture or in a factory. Regionalists desired to show Middle and Southern America in a positive light, as a challenge to the perceived dominance of French artists, but without challenging the notions of inequality that were so widespread in America at the time.

One of the best known regionalists was Thomas Hart Benton, whose work can be seen here, as well as artists inspired by regionalists work. Thomas Hart Benton, a Missourian, has works displayed all over the state, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Smithsonian Museum of Art. Benton used bright colors and larger than life figures at work to depict life as he saw it, both in the large cities of Kansas City and St. Louis, as well as agricultural workers and the lives of farmers all over the state of Missouri.

Elements of Regionalism

Although elements of realism can be found in many of the works here, there are artists who have used influences from their areas to make amazing and original artworks. Walt Curlee paints with a regionalist influence, specifically about farm and country life. Johnathan Harris, a lifelong Westerner, paints in the regionalist style of landscapes in California and Colorado. In all of these works, the artists are striving for an emphasis on the beauty of the landscapes.

Whether you are looking to celebrate a piece of American history, or you want to find a piece of art that depicts where you came from or where you are going, you can find what you are looking for here. American artists like Thomas Hart Benton are one of a kind, and regionalists celebrate the best America has to offer, in their portrayal of Americans who live outside those areas covered by movies and media. We love to celebrate American art painted by American regional artists.  Why not pick up a piece of American regional art today?


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