In choosing art, Thomas Hart Benton abandoned his family’s long-established role in Missouri’s political life. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as a teenager, went on to the Académie Julian in Paris, and eventually set up a studio in New York. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the height of his popularity, he taught at the Art Students League of New York. As World War II brought changes to society and to art itself, Benton persisted in his style. He was a regionalist painter, and a proud midwesterner. He had returned to Missouri in 1935, and he remained there the rest of his life, painting murals, portraits, and landscapes that documented hardworking rural America.
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