‘America Today’ by Thomas Hart Benton @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

bentoncity1352564491315Jackson Pollock served as a model for several of the male archetypes featured in Thomas Hart Benton’s 10-panel mural, America Today. And Benton, in turn, served as a mentor to Pollock. Given their relationship, one might find it odd that it is Pollock who steals Benton’s thunder via the Metropolitan’s latest exhibit. Benton’s mural, originally crafted for the New School’s International Style Building on West 12th, is both decadent and unique, featuring everything from taxi dancers to racketeers; railroad workers to grain elevators; boom years to lean. And yet, it pales in comparison to several like-minded pieces located in the installation’s anteroom. Along the north wall, Reginald Marsh’s The Bowery, as well as John Steuart Curry’s John Brown. Along the west wall, Jackson Pollock’s Pasiphaé. Collectively, these paintings represent an unexpected morsel, like feasting on hors d’oeuvres at the expense of one’s main course. Either way, it’s all worth seeing, and it’s a perfect time of year to do just that.

(America Today continues at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through 4/19/15. Free with suggested donation, 82nd Street @ 5th Avenue.)

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