Today the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced that the AXA insurance company has given it 29 drawings and studies that served as the basis for Thomas Hart Benton’s career-defining mural America Today. The mural itself was also donated to the Met by AXA, back in 2012, and occupies a space in the museum’s modern and contemporary galleries. The new drawings and studies will now be installed there through January 16, 2017.
America Today was the result of Benton’s travels throughout the country during the 1920s. Benton recorded what he saw through hundreds of drawings, some of which he later turned into the painted studies that comprise part of the museum’s recent gift. Prior to entering AXA’s collection, two of the paintings were owned for many years by Jackson Pollock, a student of Benton’s during their time at the Art Students League.
The museum’s director and CEO, Thomas P. Campbell, thanked AXA for the additions to the mural in a press statement, saying that the “gift of these rich and revelatory works enhance our understanding of this important American artist and his contribution to 20th-century art.”