Historical Society to present 50-year-old audio from Thomas Hart Benton

Friday, May 4, 2012 | 12:44 p.m. CDT; updated 2:35 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 4, 2012

*CORRECTION: The interview with Thomas Hart Benton was recorded on May 6, 1962. An earlier version of this article misstated the date the interview was recorded.

COLUMBIA — On May 6, 1962*, two English professors from Kansas recorded an interview with Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton, covering everything from popular art versus intellectual art, patriotism and the American mythology.

The State Historical Society, which acquired the 50-year-old audio recorded on reel-to-reel tape in the fall of 2011, will present some clips from the interview in an event called "Benton Speaks: Fifty Years Later."

"(The audio) is so valuable to us for understanding Benton," Historical Society art curator Joan Stack said. "I don't think people know how sophisticated he was. He also embraced his rough, tough Missouri roots as well as the intellectual worlds. He talks about straddling those two sides of American culture and is interested in bringing those together."

Stack and the Historical Society's oral historian, Jeff Corrigan, will host the event at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Ellis Library, in the main gallery of the Columbia research center. Those who attend will be surrounded by Benton's work hanging in the gallery while listening to Benton's insights.

Benton's commentary on his former student Jackson Pollack's rejection of subject matter in art will be a high point during "Benton Speaks."

"People will be struck by his good humor. He laughs a lot. He sees the funny side of the stuff he's talking about," Stack said. "He's thought a lot about his philosophy of art and contemporary art and art history, and it is interesting to hear him talk about these things."

The event is free and open to the public. 

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