Oct 26, 2023 - Sale 2650

Sale 2650 - Lot 112

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
"I'VE OUTLIVED THE 'MOVEMENTS', THE CRITICS, THE ARTY ART EXPERTS" BENTON, THOMAS HART. Group of 17 items Signed, or Inscribed and Signed, "Thomas H. Benton" or "Tom" or "T," to collector Hyman Cohen, in ink or pencil: small archive of 10 Autograph Letters * 7 magazines or books. The letters, reporting progress made in his paintings and in building a new house and in preparing for June [mural for 1933 Chicago World's Fair], reacting to critics of his mural, planning for murals at [MO] State Capitol building, complaining about the "museum business," and stating that popular opinion finally seems to support the views expressed in his paintings. Together 18 pages, 4to or 8vo, few on personal or hotel stationery; one chipped at lower edge with minor loss. Each with the original envelope. The magazines and books, most "To Hyman Cohen," inscribed on front cover or page near front. Folio or smaller; generally good condition. Vp, 1931-64

Additional Details

Letters: 20 August [1931]: ". . . I am doing little work at present in painting, most of my labor is going into my place, digging and building. I've done two watercolors and I have all the drawings of the early summer, but I am holding my energies for the winter."
[26 March 1933]: ". . . I have to work by exact schedule--so much done each day in order to open the 1st of June in Chicago--every minute counts. So far I have done more extensive work than New School & Whitney Museum put together--and under this pressure I believe I am doing my best work. . . . We fought a little over the inclusion of the Ku Klux Klan and the bank failures but they gave in and now even the governor backs me up.
"We are in a revolution, Hymie. Something is happening to this country, psychologically. It is my good fortune to be the one probably who will change . . . officially sanctioned art. No state, heretofore would ever have had the nerve to hire an artist and let him paint the actual fact--the evil as well as the good.
"We will see what comes of it. Whether or not it wrecks my backers politically."
25 May 1933: ". . . I have had my way all through this work and it is far superior to any that I have done before. . . .
"It is certain to get a lot of publicity after the first hurrah of the Fair's opening is over. For once a State exhibit is something other than a farce and that must automatically draw intelligent attention.
"I am probably in for more berating from our critical friends, what I do is a little too much for their delicate sensibilities, but that won't make any difference if the American people should wake up and realize that for once they have been fairly and accurately portrayed. . . .
"I believe it possible that these bad years have taken the blinders off a good deal of intelligence that was pulling the red band wagon just through pure inertia. I have a hope that maybe I'll get somewhere yet. We'll see. . . ."
29 August 1933: ". . . What I can judge of reports in the Times give me the feeling that Art is at a pretty low ebb right now.
"I have been a little discouraged by the poor publicity my Indiana mural received. This was my best job and yet I rarely see anything about it. . . ."
31 December 1935: ". . . I am still working on the plans of my murals for the State Capitol but expect to get at the walls within six or eight more weeks. . . .
"I do not miss all the quarreling and bickering of the New York Art world. In fact it is grand to work in peace. . . ."
17 October 1941: ". . . You understand that my language in New York was figurative--but don't fool yourself and say that it didn't contain a lot of truth. This whole museum business is rotten and I'm not yet through with it. Read my article in the June issue of 'Common Sense' . . . ."
23 April 1964: ". . . I've outlived the 'movements', the critics, the arty art experts, . . . the bright boys and the holy boys and girls--the social content children with the Commie bias, I mean. It looks like I've got America behind me--and that's more, by far, than I ever expected.--and, certainly, enough for me . . . ."
Magazines and books: Creative Art: A Magazine of Fine and Applied Art. December, 1928 • Exhibition catalogue for The Theatre in Art held at Sidney Ross Gallery beginning March 30, 1932. [New York : Sidney Ross Gallery], (1932) • Two copies: David Laurance Chambers and Benton. Indiana: A Hoosier History. [Indianapolis]: (Bobbs-Merrill, 1933) • TIME. December 24, 1934 • Benton. Thomas Hart Benton: A Descriptive Catalogue. New York, Associated American Artists, 1939 • Benton. The Year of Peril. [Chicago: Abbot Laboratories], (1942).
With--Small group of related ephemera, including three retained drafts of letters from Cohen to Benton or the University of Kansas concerning art generally or the loan of Benton's painting Burlesque to the University's Museum of Art (1951-58); two typed letters from the University to Cohen concerning the same loan (1957-58); an incomplete loan form for the same (1958); and a few newspaper clippings (1935-62).