Thomas Hart Benton

Shocking Corn, 1945
Oil on canvas
Purchase, Katharine G. Ordway Fund

Thomas Hart Benton’s painting of a rural American landscape shows two farmers working in the field forming high upright piles of corn stalks. He juxtaposes his farmers, who wear red and white shirts and blue and black pants, with the golden figural corn stalks in the foreground. The painting is made up of prominent brushstrokes that form a series of undulating curved forms, each echoing the others’ shape. For example, the hills in the background mirror the shape of the clouds.

Jodi Richert, “Thomas Hart Benton.” In Our Treasures: Highlights from the Minnesota Museum of American Art

Benton was one of the founders of the Regionalist movement in American art, a scholarly classification and not his own. He was concerned with representing the “American experience” as he understood it. Through Benton, we witness people relating to each other and their surroundings. In these relationships lives sameness, difference, joy, devastation, labor, cultural nuance, past, and present. What of this can you find in Shocking Corn?

Courtney Gerber, 100 Years and Counting