The Other Series After Thomas Hart Benton, 1997
Collector’s Circle Purchase, 2010
When you look at Kathy Grove’s 1997 screenprint, The Other Series After Thomas Hart Benton, what you see is a reimagined view of Thomas Hart Benton’s 1939 painting, Persephone. Benton was an American Regionalist, known for depicting sweeping views of agrarian and industrial life, while Grove is a contemporary feminist inspired by the Guerrilla Girls movement, whose lifelong project “The Other Series” seeks to remove images of women from the paintings and photographs of famous male artists.
Benton’s painting is based on a Greek myth of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld, that explains the changes of seasons. In the painting, Benton is dressed as an aged farmer in the role of Hades, peeking at the sleeping Persephone from behind a tree. This Hades figure seems to look tentatively as if surprised and perplexed at the fertile, out-of-place scene he has found.
Grove removes the female figure but leaves evidence of her, suggesting a validation of the symbolism of fertility while shifting traditional events and relationships, perhaps in keeping with Benton’s own view. The aged, tentative Benton-farmer figure, his waiting horse and wagon behind him, now sees only evidence of a woman’s sumptuous red cloak, heeled shoes, and flower basket so out of place on a Midwestern American farm.
ACTIVITY: This work of art explore the idea of art or technology reimagined in a new way. Using pencils, paper, markers, crayons, or other art supplies you have on hand, imagine how you want life to be and draw it.