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Benton, in his murals and easel paintings, earnestly and almost ferociously strives to record a contemporary history of the U. S. A short wiry man with an unruly crop of black hair, he lives with his beauteous Italian wife and one small son in a picture-cluttered downtown Manhattan flat. To critics who have complained that his murals were loud and disturbing. Artist Benton answers: "They represent the U. S. which is also loud and not 'in good taste.' " "I have not found," he explains, "the U. S. a standardized mortuary and consequently have no sympathy with that school of detractors whose experience has been limited to first class hotels and the paved highways. At the same time I am no sentimentalist. I know an ass and the dust of his kicking when I come across it. But I have come across enough of it to be able to discover interesting qualities therein."
Thomas Benton has filled scores of note books with sketches of the U. S. scene which eventually find their way into his work. He boasts that all his burlesque queens, stevedores, Negroes, preachers, and college professors are actual persons. His vivid portraits of them are fast becoming collectors' items and the cost of Bentons has been steadily rising since the Navy put him on the right artistic track. Last week, Thomas Benton, who is usually jolly, had a special reason to be cheerful. He sold his oil, Cotton Town (see reproduction), to Marshall Field III.
If Thomas Benton is the most virile of U. S. painters of the U. S. Scene the honor of being a pioneer in the movement belongs to Charles Ephraim Burchfield, 41. a tailor's son from Ash tabula Harbor, Ohio. In his childhood Burchfield found nothing so fascinating as tumble-down houses, freight trains, railroad tracks. Today most up-to-date museums have Burchfields.. Not so spectacular a draughtsman as Benton, Burchfield manages to invest his paintings with a calm if somewhat dismal dignity and an exceptionally acute feeling for light and space. He lives in an eight-room frame house outside Buffalo, N. Y. with his wife and five children, amuses himself by tending his garden and building frames for his pictures.
A painter of the city is Reginald Marsh who was born 36 years ago to Muralist Fred Dana Marsh in Paris. As a tousle-headed boy (he is now almost bald) he went to Lawrenceville, later to Yale. In spite of his very proper education, Artist Marsh thinks "well bred people are no fun to paint," haunts Manhattan subways, public beaches, waterfronts, burlesque theatres for his subjects. The Metropolitan and Whitney Museums thought enough of his work to purchase examples.