In 1908, Benton studied art in Paris, where he encountered many members of the European avantgarde. Though he experimented with abstraction upon his return to the United States, he later declared himself an “enemy of modernism. After becoming involved with Marxism in New York City, where he taught in the 1920s and early 1930s, he developed a slightly distorted, mannered style, in which he created idealized representations of the rural American experience (such as Homestead). Influenced by the socially conscious murals of Diego Rivera, whom he had met in Paris, Benton began to take on mural commissions in 1930; for his first project, at The New School for Social Research in New York, he worked alongside Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, who was also painting a fresco for the school.
Gallery label from 2011.