Selfies Before Cell Phones at the Boca Museum of Art

Eye to I at the Boca Museum

Before there was the selfie, there was the self portrait. Eye to I, the current exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, explores the way in which twentieth-century American artists portrayed themselves through painting, drawing, photography, and film. Unlike selfies, which can be instantly gratifying and, often, very candid, self-portraits can be used by the artist to portray, not just a realistic view of themselves, but a look at the artist’s alter-ego or the way in which the artist would like to see themselves portrayed.

The exhibit was put together by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and the artists that make the gallery so extraordinary. The show is set for a national tour, and its first stop is the Boca Museum. The sixty works in the exhibit span every decade of the twentieth century, from 1901 and continuing through 2015.

The works of some of our favorite artists are included in the show, like Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence and Jasper Johns.

The Boca Raton Museum of Art, like museums and galleries around the world, is temporarily closed to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The exhibit was scheduled to run from March 24th through June 14th but the opening has been delayed.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton was born into a family of Missouri politicians. His father served four terms in the U.S. Congress. Best known as a Regionalist painter, Benton was more worldly and sophisticated than the title implies. Benton studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Academie Julian in Paris and lived and worked in New York City for more than twenty years.

Thomas Hart Benton
Self-Portrait with Rita, c. 1924
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

In Self-Portrait with Rita, one of the highlights of the Eye to I exhibit, Benton portrays himself and his wife, Rita, with glamorous, movie star perfection.

Benton met Rita Piacenza in 1922. She was one of the students he taught at neighborhood art classes in New York. They were married for almost fifty-five years, until his death in 1975.

Thomas Hart Benton
Still Life with Lilies and Ferns, c. mid-1940s
Oil on masonite
19.38 x 12 inches
Signed: Benton (l.l.)
For sale at Surovek Gallery

Benton imbued his works with bold colors and flowing lines, as in Still Life with Lilies and Ferns available at Surovek Gallery. His style was influenced by Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, who was visiting Paris at the same time as Benton, along with Gertrude Stein and other American artists.

In his memoirs, Benton wrote, “These people were all around the Quarter, but I shied away from them for I soon discovered they were all more talented and capable than I.”

In his later years, Benton revealed his excellent talent in his paintings and murals, and became much less shy and more vocal. Not a fan of abstract art, Benton appreciated the realism and political storytelling of the artists of Mexico.

Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 is an exhibit at the Whitney  Museum that looks at the influence of Mexican artists on American artists, like Benton.

Thomas Hart Benton
Sea Phantasy, Part l, 1925-1926
Oil on metal
63 x 47 inches
The work is a panel from Thomas Hart Benton’s first mural commission, for sportsman Albert Briggs.
For sale at Surovek Gallery

Although the Whitney is temporarily closed right now, the exhibit was scheduled to show through May 17, 2020.

The Works of Thomas Hart Benton at Surovek Gallery

Please contact us if you would like more information about Still Life with Lilies and Ferns, Sea Phantasy or any of the other fine art available at Surovek Gallery.





2020-03-27T09:21:34-04:00 March 19th, 2020|

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