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Lovely, beautifully-arranged museum with fine collection of (what else?) American art. Today's field trip of the Adventures in Lifelong Learning group--age 55 and up--went very well.
The Museum displays a fine example of the ups and downs of artistic reputation. One room is devoted to murals by Thomas Hart Benton, including a full set of "The Arts of American Life," created in 1932 for the Whitney family residence, valued and loved at the time. When Gertrude Whitney died and her home became the Whitney Museum, things changed. Benton, once one of America's most commercially-successful fine artists--he made the cover of TIME!--went out of style with a pop of the bubble reputation.
Did you know that Jackson Pollock was his student? I didn't. And how ironic that the student's Abstract Expressionism is what superseded his teacher's figurative--though hardly photorealist or academic--style.
In 1951, the Whitney Museum planned to discard "The Arts of American Life," but no other New York museum would accept the murals. Word reached the director of the New Britain, CT museum, and their Board approved $500 to cover the costs of transporting them from the Whitney to New Britain.
Today, Thomas Hart Benton is back in style, and the contents of the room are insured for $15 million.
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