Benton, Thomas Hart, S1c

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Last Rank
Seaman First Class
Last Primary NEC
S1c-0000-Seaman 1st Class
Last Rating/NEC Group
Illustrator Draftsman
Primary Unit
1918-1919, S1c-0000, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth, VA
Service Years
1918 - 1919
DM-Illustrator Draftsman
Seaman First Class

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Benton, Thomas Hart (Tom), S1c.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Neosho, Newton County, MO
Last Address
He was cremated and his ashes scattered over Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Date of Passing
Jan 19, 1975
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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US Naval Reserve Honorable Discharge

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Famous People Who Served
  2017, Famous People Who Served [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Thomas Hart Benton, USNRF
WWI navy illustrator draftsmen and ship camouflage designer (camoufleur)

During World War I, at the age of 29, Tom served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. His war-related work had an enduring effect on his style. He was directed to make drawings and illustrations of shipyard work and life, and this requirement for realistic documentation strongly affected his later style. Later in the war, classified as a "camoufleur," Benton drew the camouflaged ships that entered Norfolk harbor. His work was required for several reasons: to ensure that U.S. ship painters were correctly applying the camouflage schemes, to aid in identifying U.S. ships that might later be lost, and to have records of the ship camouflage of other Allied navies. Benton later said that his work for the Navy "was the most important thing, so far, I had ever done for myself as an artist."

Benton was hired in 1940, along with eight other prominent American artists, to document dramatic scenes and characters during the production of the film The Long Voyage Home, a cinematic adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's plays.

During World War II, Benton was commissioned by the navy and created a series titled The Year of Peril, which portrayed the threat to American ideals by fascism and Nazism. The prints were widely distributed. Following the war, Regionalism fell from favor, eclipsed by the rise of Abstract Expressionism. Benton remained active for another 30 years, but his work included less contemporary social commentary and portrayed pre-industrial farmlands.  

Thomas Hart Benton (April 15, 1889 - January 19, 1975) was an American painter and muralist. Along with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, he was at the forefront of the Regionalist art movement. His fluid, sculpted figures in his paintings showed everyday people in scenes of life in the United States. Though his work is strongly associated with the Midwestern United States, he studied in Paris, lived in New York City for more than 20 years and painted scores of works there, summered for 50 years on Martha's Vineyard off the New England coast, and also painted scenes of the American South and West.

Thomas Hart Benton was also an accomplished harmonica musician, recording an album for Decca Records in 1942 titled "Saturday Night at Tom Benton's". Benton died in 1975 at work in his studio, as he completed his final mural, "The Sources of Country Music", for the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Other Comments:
During World War I, Benton was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as an architectural draftsman and painted camouflage for the Navy. In his free time he read American history and sketched local scenes of shipyard life. The Navy's requirement for artistic realism and documentation strongly impacted on his later style. Up until this time he had struggled to find an artistic identity. It was his turn to depictions of everyday life of American and its people in a representational style that announced Benton's emergence as a mature artist. Because of his interest in American history and his family's deep roots in Missouri, Benton soon chose the American Historical Epic as a theme; his elongated figuration showing the influence of El Greco.

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth, VA
  1918-1919, S1c-0000, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth, VA
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1918-1918 World War I
 Colleges Attended 
Academy of Art College
  1907-1909, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  1909-1913, Academy of Art College
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Thomas Hart Benton6
  Paintings and murals11
  May 18, 2017, Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy exhibition at the Chrysler1
  Nov 04, 2017, General Photos4
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