Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered
September 30, 2014–April 19, 2015
This exhibition celebrates the gift of Thomas Hart Benton's epic mural America Today from AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in December 2012. Benton (1889–1975) painted this mural for New York's New School for Social Research to adorn the school's boardroom in its International Style modernist building on West 12th Street. Showing a sweeping panorama of American life throughout the 1920s, America Today ranks among Benton's most renowned works and is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in American art of the period.
The ten-panel mural is featured in a space that recreates the boardroom in which it originally hung. An adjacent gallery includes Benton's studies for America Today, including character studies in pencil for figures that appear in the mural, as well as painted compositional studies for individual mural panels. There is an additional gallery devoted to works that relate to America Today, drawn from the Met's collections; of particular interest is Jackson Pollock's Pasiphaé (1943). Pollock was Benton's student at this time and served as a model for his teacher's mural.