Iconic Thomas Hart Benton Painting Heads to New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Widely considered one of the most important and famous American scene paintings, Thomas Hart Benton’s 10-panel mural entitled ‘America Today’ will be donated to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

According to The New York Times, the mural depicting “a panoply of pre-Depression American types, from flappers to famers, steel workers to stock market tycoons” previously lined the third-floor boardroom of the New School for Social Research but will soon be donated to the Met by AXA Equitable, an insurance company that purchased it approximately 30 years ago.

Mark Pearson, AXA’s chairman and CEO, recently told the NYT in a phone interview, “The Met is really the perfect home for it. The Met has the scale for it and the greatest number of visitors.”

Described as a “win-win for New York and for art lovers everywhere” by Met director Thomas P. Campbell, ‘America Today’ will join numerous other period pieces at the Met.

The handover of the iconic artwork is expected to take place in 2015, when the Met takes over the Whitney Museum of American Art’s landmark Marcel Breuer building, according to the NYT. Eventually, Campbell said the mural will move from the Breuer building to somewhere in the Met itself.

Benton passed away in 1975, but had made it clear that he got the inspiration for the mural by traveling around the U.S. in the 1920s.

In 1968, he told an interviewer, “I’d just go around, sketching and talking to people. You could talk to people quite easily then. I don’t find that same easy contact now, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m older. I think you people feel it too, and that’s why there’s all this rebellion.”

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