Christopher W. Benson, “Cybele and William #2,” 2001, oil on linen, 34 x 34 inches, Courtesy of Sarah Leverett

On view through 2017 at the Newport Art Museum is a great retrospective of Christopher W. Benson from 1975 to 2017, illustrating the evolution of the artist’s style over the course of his forty-year career as a painter.

Raised in Newport and Providence, Rhode Island, Christopher W. Benson emerged from a family of artists and forged his own artistic path through teachers, art historical figures, friends, and his own intuition. Along the way, he found himself in Brooklyn, Cornwall, Newport, Berkeley, Tiverton, and Santa Fe, all of which stimulated the exploration of new content, styles, and ideas.

Christopher W. Benson, “Roswell #4,” 2013, oil on linen, 48 x 72 inches, Courtesy of artist and Jessica Hagen Gallery
Christopher W. Benson, “The Wuilter’s Daughter,” 2012-14, oil on linen, 48 x 96 inches, Courtesy of artist and Jessica Hagen Gallery

Benson’s forty-year career is now in focus through December 31 at the Newport Art Museum for a retrospective titled “Pictures & Windows: The Paintings of Christopher W. Benson from 1975-2017.” “As a representational painter, Benson absorbed various influences but nevertheless created something altogether new” the museum reported. “Familiar and yet innovative, Benson’s paintings are quintessentially American, hovering in a territory somewhere between the salt-of-the-earth realism of earlier New England coastal painters like Winslow Homer and George Bellows and the vibrancy of Bay Area Figuration. His work has also been influenced by other prominent American painters, such as Martin Johnson Heade, Edward Hopper, the regionalists of the 1930s, and the American Modernists Patrick Henry Bruce and Stuart Davis. From his early paintings of New York City to San Francisco Bay Area domestic interiors and streetscapes, to New Mexican landscapes, bi-coastal seascapes, and even some Mayan-influenced paintings, Benson takes us through an artistic odyssey that charts many of the potentials of his medium, from hard-edged realism to expressionism and abstraction.

To learn more, visit the Newport Art Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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