Along with the photo of the drum major that was featured in yesterday’s blog, I also came across another Alfred Eisenstadt photo. Shown above, it is of one of my painting heroes, Thomas Hart Benton, standing in front of a self-portrait. It’s a face that definitely belongs in one of his paintings. It reminded me of the post I’ve included below from a few years back that contains a video about the making of one of his famed murals. If you have ten or eleven minutes and are interested in the painstaking efforts that went into the making of this masterpiece, give it a look.
Back in June, I wrote about going to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum to see the painting shown above, Achelous and Hercules, a wondrous mural from the great American painter Thomas Hart Benton. It was commissioned to hang in a now-defunct Kansas City department store in 1947 and after the store closed in 1984 this masterpiece was given to the Smithsonian.
The photo of this mural doesn’t do it justice. Its size and scale, 5′ high and 22′ on a wide wooden panel that Benton painted in egg tempera, is lost in fitting its image on a small screen. Take my word, it’s imposing and grand, a piece I could stand in front of for hours, losing myself in the rhythms and colors.
That being said, I came across a video taken from an old film that shows the incredibly elaborate process that Benton used in the making of this mural, which took about eight months. It is fascinating and unusual to see a known masterpiece all the way through the process and coming together in all its stages. It makes me appreciate this painting even more.
Here is that video. It’s about 11 minutes long and worth the time spent.