Benton Spruance : Biography

Benton Spruance : Biography


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Benton Murdoch Spruance was born in Philadelphia on 25th June, 1904. Spruance entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1925. He was awarded a Cresson Traveling Scholarship and spent 1928 in Paris. On his return to America he began making lithographs.

Spruance had his first solo show at the Weyhe Gallery in 1933. That year he was appointed as professor of the Department of Fine Art. He also had regular exhibitions with the Print Club of Philadelphia. Spruance was seen as a "citizen-artist" by his contemporaries.

From 1934 he taught at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts. As well as teaching printmaking he also taught the history of art. Stephen Coppel, the author of The American Scene (2008) has pointed out:: "Lithography was Spruance's principal printmaking technique. He made 536 lithographs out of a total oeuvre of 555 recorded prints; between 1928 and 1939 alone he produced some 177 lithographs. During this period his style varied from naturalistic portraits to a precisionist approach of flattened and layered forms. A deliberate socially conscious agenda informs his lithographs from 1935 to the 1940s, when he began to work in a more highly charged expressionistic style and turned to wartime subjects."

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Spruance volunteered to join the armed forces but was turned down on the grounds of poor health. He was under no illusions as what the Second World War entailed. In 1943 he produced the lithograph, Fathers and Sons. Stephen Coppel argues: "The twisted, agonized forms in this print expresses his ambivalence. Two snipers confront each other, trapped within a swirling figure of eight that may be likened to a Mobius strip symbolizing an eternal cycle of violence. Beneath the combatants lie the skeletons of two soldiers from the previous generation who had fought in the First World War, one a German beside his spiked helmet, the other an American still wearing his tin helmet."

From the early 1950s Spruance participated in the urban regeneration of Philadelphia and in 1953 was appointed to the Philadelphia Art Commission. One of his achievements was the 1959 law where one percent of the budget for every new building in Philadelphia had to be spent upon public art. During the 1960s he produced colour lithographs, mostly literary or symbolic in theme.

Benton Murdoch Spruance died in Philadelphia on 6th December, 1967.

Lithography was Spruance's principal printmaking technique. A deliberate socially conscious agenda informs his lithographs from 1935 to the 1940s, when he began to work in a more highly charged expressionistic style and turned to wartime subjects.


Benton Spruance : Biography - History

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Contact
  • News
  • Observations
  • Catalogues
    • Phillip Adams
    • Natalie Alper
    • Harry Bertoia
    • Paul Cava
    • Joan Wadleigh Curran
    • Thomas Eakins
    • Martha Mayer Erlebacher
    • James Fee
    • Christopher Gallego
    • Sidney Goodman
    • Robert Goodman
    • Grace Hartigan
    • George Herms
    • Michael Morrill
    • Hiro Sakaguchi
    • Victor Vazquez
    • Kelly Wallace
    • San Francisco and the Second Wave
    • Phillip Adams
      • 2014
      • 2012
      • 2011
      • 2010
      • 2012
      • 2007
      • 2009
      • 2011
      • 2012
      • 2012
      • 2011
      • 2009
      • 2008
      • 2007
      • Eons Beyond the Rib
      • Dialogues and Correspondence
      • Homage to the Barnes
      • Kelly Wallace & Anne Canfield
      • Let's Go Enjoy Nature!
      • I Can't Get You Out of My Mind
      • Natalie Alper & Victor Vazquez
      • My Dog Speaks
      • Goodman & Sakaguchi
      • The Transcendent Real
      • Zamora & Keyser
      • Masters & Mavericks
      • Out of Line
      • Current
        • Yvonne Jacquette
        • Robert Goodman
        • Hiro Sakaguchi
        • Elissa Tuerk
        • Phillip Adams
        • 2015
          • Madeline Peckenpaugh
          • Emerging Talent 2015
          • Debris: A Group Show
          • Ryan Buffington
          • Rebecca Saylor Sack
          • Nancy Sophy
          • Anne Canfield
          • Depth of Field
          • Bill Richards
          • Emerging Talent
          • Joe Mooney
          • Phillip Adams
          • Robert Goodman
          • Ward Davenny
          • Eons Beyond the Rib
          • Kate Stewart
          • Kelly Wallace
          • Dialogues and Correspondence
          • Barbara Bullock
          • Masters and Mavericks
          • Joan Wadleigh Curran
          • David Borgerding
          • Hiro Sakaguchi
          • Homage to the Barnes
          • Constructed Paintings & Drawings from Ballinglen
          • Rebecca Saylor Sack
          • Michael Morrill
          • December Group
          • Artists
            • Phillip Adams
            • Natalie Alper
            • Barbara Bullock
            • Ryan Buffington
            • Anne Canfield
            • Joan Wadleigh Curran
            • Robert Goodman
            • George Herms
            • Michael Morrill
            • Madeline Peckenpaugh
            • Bill Richards
            • Rebecca Saylor Sack
            • Hiro Sakaguchi
            • Phillip Scarpone
            • Elissa Tuerk
            • Kelly Wallace
            • Victor Vazquez
            • Artists
              • Asian Works
              • John Altoon
              • Walter Darby Bannard
              • James Brooks
              • Ward Davenny
              • Martha Mayer Erlebacher
              • Sam Gilliam
              • Leon Golub
              • Sidney Goodman
              • Anabell Guerrero
              • Sidney Goodman
              • Grace Hartigan
              • Paul Klee
              • Ken Mabrey
              • Willem de Kooning
              • Peter Miller
              • Latin American Works
              • Walter Tandy Murch
              • Louise Nevelson
              • Lisette Model
              • Jules Olitski
              • Ray Parker
              • Horrace Pippin
              • Larry Poons
              • Catherine Prescott
              • Robert Rauschenberg
              • Larry Rivers
              • Laura Sallade
              • Nancy Sophy
              • Benton Spruance
              • Kate Stewart
              • Tony Ward
              • Max Weber
              • Peter Zelle
              • Traveling Exhibitions
                • Phillip Adams
                • Harry Bertoia
                • Barbara Bullock
                • Anne Canfield
                • Brian Dickerson
                • Joan Wadleigh Curran
                • Martha Mayer Erlebacher
                • Robert Goodman Mural
                • Anabell Guerrero
                • Ken Mabrey
                • Michael Morrill
                • Rebecca Saylor Sack
                • Hiro Sakaguchi
                • Chris Smith
                • Victor Vazquez
                • Kelly Wallace

                (b Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1904 d Philadelphia 1967)

                American lithographer and painter. Benton Murdoch Spruance was one of the most influential and prolific color lithographers in the history of twentieth-century modernism.

                He was known for his innovations in the field of color lithography. After studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Spruance attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He served as chair of the Fine Arts department at Beaver College in Pennsylvania, and was Director of Graphic Arts at the Philadelphia College of Art.

                Spruance was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including two grants from the Guggenheim. In 1967, the year that Spruance died, a major retrospective of his work was held at the Philadelphia College of Arts.

                There have also been other exhibitions of his art at the Art Institute of Chicago The Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Permanent collections of his work are held by many institutions including the National Gallery of Art the New York Public Library and the Carnegie Institute.


                Contact us

                The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected]

                To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.


                Benton Spruance: World of One's Own

                Detail from: The People Work - Evening, 1937, Lithograph Courtesy of Print and Picture Collection, The Philadelphia Free Library, Catalogue #143

                Organized in conjunction with the University's sesquicentennial celebration, this exhibition of prints by Philadelphia artist and former Beaver College professor Benton Spruance (1904-1967) provides a contemporary platform from which to survey the evolution of mid-twentieth century Modernism. Grounded in social realism, Spruance's prints chronicle an expansive range of American experience, increasingly employing abstraction and graphic stylization as they encompass more literary and mythological themes. Spruance's belief in the democratic possibilities of lithography, as well as his technical innovations in the medium, join his advocacy towards securing Philadelphia's groundbreaking One Percent for Art ordinance as part of his enduring legacy.


                Benton Spruance : Biography - History

                The Philadelphia College of Art is pleased to present this retrospective exhibition of the lithographs of Benton Spruance, in honor of his distinguished achievement as artist and as a member of its faculty since 1934.

                Philadelphia College of Art, September 15 — October 6, 1967

                This exhibition is to honor the long and distinguished teaching career of Benton Spruance. Ben is a recognized artist and is the &quotDean&quot of Philadelphia lithog- raphers. It is in this field that he demonstrates his great knowledge and his great love of this artistic medium. No print ever leaves his studio that does not measure up to his scrupulous standards of quality, both of esthetics and of craftsmanship. He has set a high mark of attainment for the host of students who have had the good fortune to &quotsit at his feet.&quot

                Ben's achievements are due primarily to the immense effort and all-encompassing concentration he devotes to each undertaking. From original drawing to finished lithograph there is meticulous attention to detail and to perfection.

                Secondly, his accomplishments reflect his great understanding of those masters who have preceded him and have, to a large extent, molded him, even as he has stimulated his students.

                As a result his lectures are a joy to hear. Many times I have witnessed his classes, sitting spellbound while listening to his scholarly discourses. I have always shared with his students their enthusiasm and interest. Never have any of us left one of his always informal &quottalks&quot without deriving new insights and renewed interests. We regret that we will not be favored in the future in the same inimitable way.

                Regardless of what has been said of his artistry and teaching, both of these qualities are overshadowed by Ben as a human personality. His warmth and spontaneity, his understanding and sympathy, mark him as an &quothomme extraor- dinaire.&quot All of those who have studied with him will regret deeply his retire- ment. May this exhibition be a token of the love and appreciation we all have for him. May it also bear witness to the fact that we look forward, with great anticipation, to those works of art from his heart, mind and hand which we expect during the ensuing years spent in health, happiness and his ever-present industry.

                C. J. Holmes — at one time Director of the National Gallery of Art in London and himself an artist — once wrote a book on Rembrandt's development as a printmaker. He showed how the artist started as an ordinary practitioner in a graphic medium, and by unremitting effort at self-education and self-criticism attained extraordinary creative facility. The artist taught himself: he learned how to profit from his mistakes and overcome his deficiencies. To be sure, there are still other types of artists who are born with a kind of inner grace and immedi- ate access to full powers. A Toulouse-Lautrec or a Pascin, for example, did not have to undergo an elaborate metamorphosis to acquire mastery. Their facility was innate, and whatever they touched, however casually, was endowed with aesthetic vitality.

                In his artistic development Benton Spruance followed the way of Rembrandt, the long hard way. He made his first lithograph in 1928 while in Paris on a Cresson Fellowship from the Academy. Somehow he had found his way to the lithographic printing shop of Desjobert. He remembers seeing Yasuo Kuniyoshi and John Carroll working there. He made several lithographs, and upon his return in 1930 on another Cresson, spent some time at the shop watching the workmen print. Because he had a smattering of French, Desjobert allowed him to hang around the atelier in return for acting as interpreter for those Americans who spoke no French. In this way he learned the rudiments of lithographic tech- nique, a subject which was not then taught in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. During the interval of almost forty years since his first attempts, Spruance has made according to the record well over four hundred lithographs.

                His very early prints — he has since destroyed many of them — have no great aesthetic distinction. They are thin and lacking in substance and form. Much of Spruance's early training had been architectural, and was not the best prepara- tion for graphic expression. Even the instruction in drawing prevailing in art schools had not advanced much beyond the conventional shades and shadows. A whole generation of young artists had to overcome their early training to conform with the more dynamic form-perceptions of the Post-Impressionists. Further- more, at the time Spruance admired and was influenced by Geoge Bellows, whose work was no paradigm of expressive draughtsmanship. There was much that Spruance had to learn over again.

                In Philadelphia he found a lithograph printer who had a press at home and who was willing to print for him and other artists in his spare time. He was Theodore Cuno, an old German craftsman who had printed for Joseph Penned at the Ketterlinus Co. and was then working as a color prover for another firm. The association with Cuno lasted for a long time, and again contributed to Ben's technical proficiency. If his style lacked distinction in the early days, at least his subject matter was novel and engaging. In the decade of the 1930's subject matter was important and social comment was in the air. Bellows led him to stress caricature above character in his delineation of types. Bellows likewise demonstrated the possibilities of sports as subject matter, and Ben responded in a series of football subjects. His Backfield in Motion of 1932 is the earliest litho- graph in the exhibition. His Pass to the Flat of 1939 is a measure of his develop- ment during the decade. Similarly in another theme, views of Philadelphia, one can trace an increasing maturity of style from Bulldog Edition of 1932 to the Bridge from Race Street of 1939. The decade of the 1930's was for Spruance a period of experimentation and groping toward a more personal style. Around 1935-36 one seems to sense the influence of his friend Franklin Watkins in the angular gestures and the heightened intensity of expression of such prints as Philatelists or Caustic Comment. What was idiosyncratic and natural in Watkins became strained and all too obvious in Spruance. In due course Ben worked himself into modes of expression somewhat more sympathetic to his nature. He made a brief excursus into a kind of cubist stylization (Leger?) in such stones as American Pattern: Barns and Arrangement for Drums of 1941. One might also say that Karl Hofer and Max Beckmann, who were favorite artists among others, offered suggestions leading toward a more monumental style. But the recital of influences is an unprofitable task. Most artists are sensitive to currents in their own times, and take suggestions wherever they find them. All artists worth their salt take such hints and make them their own.

                In 1937, after much preliminary study and revision, Spruance issued a set of four large lithographs The People Work, and in the following year a similar set The People Play. Both were concerned with a certain kind of social commentary, a synthesis or documentary montage of urban life. They were sociological treatises in visual terms. They marked the culmination of a phase: the artist did not pursue the theme in the same way again. As time went on he became more free and less literal, he learned that it was possible to suggest as well as to spell out. His inspiration began to take a more symbolic form — interpretations in modern dress of classical myths and biblical themes. He continued in many instances to use the suite or sequence as the frame-work of his conception, the numbers in each series often running from three to ten units.

                The beginnings of his use of symbolic interpretation are evident as early as 1934 (The Annunciation). Typical is his treatment of the Wise Men theme. The idea must have appealed to him, for he made three versions, the first in 1940 entitled The Gift of the Kings and the third in 1943 called Epiphany. In each of the prints, one Wise Man in academic robes offers a book to the Child seated in his mother's lap another bears the attributes of the physician, and the third the suggestion of a religious ministry. In a corner in the darkness lies a man in chains. The artist thus voices the hope that education, science, and religion will free a new generation from the bondage suffered by the old. Such graphic statements of humane values were edifying concepts, even if the artist's execution was not always commensurate with the grandeur of the idea. Spruance, however, went on during the late nineteen-forties and throughout the nineteen-fifties to refine his technical means and to bring his philosophical reflections to greater maturity. A list of some of the titles will suggest the range and development of his exploration in the fields of myth and scripture during that period: among suites, Ecclesiastes 1945, Vanities I and II 1949-50, Job 1951, St. Francis 1953, Minotaur 1953, Centaur 1954, Four Northern Saints 1954, Resurrection 1955, The Anabasis of Saint- Jean Perse 1957 among single stones, Behold the Man 1947, Prometheus 1953, Priestess 1954, Penelope 1956, Magdalene 1956, Black Friday 1958.

                With an intelligence and social conscience as alert to current events as Spruance's it was natural that he would have something to say about World War II. He offered a prophetic glimpse of it in The Windshield of 1939 (from a planned review of the 1930's which never got beyond two stones) as well as sorrowing and bitter reflections in Lamentation 1941 and Souvenir of Lidice 1943. Perhaps the most striking of his war prints were Riders of the Apocalypse with its array of airplanes in the sky, and Fathers and Sons, a tragic commentary on war's recur- rent pattern, both of 1943.


                Low Entrance to a High Place

                It must be kept in mind that Spruance's printmaking activity was always concur- rent with a heavy teaching load and an active participation in public affairs. He is not and never has been an ivory-tower artist. He has been President of Artists' Equity and helped to shape its policy at a crucial time. He is a member of the Philadelphia Art Commission which acts as a watchdog over the city's archi- tectural beauty. As a knowledgeable trustee of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, he has been active in its guidance and wise in his counsel. He is professor of Art and Chairman of the Department at Beaver College, and teaches painting, printmaking, art history and print history. He built up the Depart- ment of Printmaking at the Philadelphia College of Art and was its head until his retirement. Because of his experience as a teacher and art historian, he is an articulate interpreter of his own work, although on principle he seldom attempts it. And if I may insert a personal note and mention still another of his activities, I would cite the &quotBrain Trust,&quot an informal group which met for dinner once a week at Imhoffs Restaurant during the early 1940's. The regular members consisted of Ben Spruance, Bob Riggs, Franklin Watkins, Alex Abels, and myself. Guests were often invited, and we generally managed to settle the affairs of the world — to our own satisfaction at least. One of the pleasant customs of the group was the rule that any member who won an award or prize had to stand treat for the crowd. Ben and Watty bore the brunt of such hospitality.

                I have spoken of the beginnings of Spruance's education in printmaking opera- tions in Desjobert's atelier, and of his working hand in hand with Theodore Cuno. This training was continued partly by working much later in several foreign printing shops (the Cursen Press in London, U. M. Grafik in Copen- hagen, and Desjobert twice again in Paris) but chiefly by his own manipulations on his own press. Lithography, more than any other graphic technique, requires for its mastery considerably more than learning from a technical manual or pedagogic demonstration: it calls for long practical experience above all, for dex- terity and know-how, the actual feel of the hand and wrist. The true lithographer learns by doing. And Ben, as a true lithographer, began to print his own litho- graphs. He first had access to a press in the school at Broad and Pine, where he taught lithography. Incidentally, one learns technique quickly when one has to teach it to others. In 1953 he bought a lithograph press for himself and set it up in his studio at Beaver College. From then on nearly all of his lithographs, with a few exceptions, were printed by him there or later in his private studio on Germantown Avenue, where he had installed his press in 1964. By an arduous process of self-training he has become a master printer. There is literally nothing that he cannot print in black or in color. Technique has become second nature to him, and this facility has in turn widened his creative horizons: he knows what effects are possible on stone. Although he has devoted all his life to lithography, he did make a few essays in other graphic mediums: in 1951 he executed a few woodcuts on the theme of Job, and in 1953 he made at least one etching and aquatint. He also has painted in oils off and on during his career. In 1963 he painted a notable mural for the chapel in the New House of Detention at Holmes- burg. (The lithograph Woman Offering Life in the present exhibition is a varia- tion of a motif in the mural.)

                There is, however, more to a fine lithograph than printing technique: there is also the &quot writing&quot on the stone — the how in addition to the what was said. The message never gave Ben much trouble. With his temperament and wide interests the idea always came first and he had plenty of them. It was in the area of what the conception was to become that the struggle lay. As T. S. Eliot said: &quotBetween the conception and the creation — between the motion and the response — falls the shadow.&quot To eliminate the shadow was his greatest task in self-education. He was aware of the problem and was determined to solve it as far as he was able. He had been handicapped by inadequate instruction in draughtsmanship. He set about training his eyes in tactile and form perceptions. Glasses helped, too, for he had certain defects of vision. But the problem was not entirely on the physical plane: it involved a change of attitude, a new approach. In a great work of art, form and content have equal validity and are perfectly fused. Each modi- fies the other to produce the resultant work of enduring merit. Originally Ben had considered the execution subordinate to the idea. He had to learn to become as emotionally and creatively involved in the means as he was in the meaning. It seems to me that the major break-through in this direction came about by his increasing involvement in color. There are a number of color prints in which the motivation appears to be exclusively pleasurable. He apparently was striving toward aesthetic realizations, playing with color and form, with lines and shapes for their own sake. With this self-knowledge and experience he has been able to achieve this ultimate fusion in his later years.

                In the current exhibition, which the artist himself selected, he has devoted thirty- five prints, or half of the total, to prints made in the 1960's, leaving the other half to represent the production of thirty-two earlier years. He has thus indicated his strong preference for the work of his immediate maturity. It is difficult to select notable prints among so many contenders. My own preference would be for such masterly interpretations as Lazarus, Odysseus, and Mother of Birds (Leda) , or the tender Winter Birds with its very personal associations for the artist. The beautiful color lithograph The Spectre of Moby Dick was the first devoted to the subject, and thus a forerunner to the great print sequence dramatizing the Passion of Ahab and his conflict with the White Whale, or Evil Incarnate. The series has been over two years in the making. None of the twenty-six large prints which constitute this magnum opus are shown here because they have not yet been formally published.

                Spruance has always worked in that tradition of graphic art which regards the print as meaningful communication. This tradition has not been popular in the past few decades with those artists who communicate little else than a sense of their own virtuosity. And they, many of them, are very much in vogue and suc- cessful. But Ben has stuck to his high purpose without compromise. He has worked long and faithfully in the vineyards of art. This exhibition is a tribute to his achievement, and incidentally a record of a life-long love affair with the lithograph stone.

                A pioneer in color lithography, Benton Spruance spent most of his life in Philadelphia, where he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and became one of the city's leading artists. In the twenties and thirties Spruance was known for prints that one critic described as his "velvety urban scenes and 'social conscious' series," which chronicled the life of ordinary men and women at work and play. However, Spruance was also a painter and draftsman who during this period took advantage of two Guggenheim fellowships to travel throughout the United States and Europe and sketch landscapes.

                In the forties Spruance began producing moody, psychologically charged lithographic portraits of women, followed by mystically tinged work, based on biblical passages, that became increasingly subtle and sculptural in effect. Despite the demand for his work (he produced more than 500 lithographs during his career), Spruance continued to teach. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the art department at Beaver College and had recently retired from the chairmanship of the printmaking department at Philadelphia College of Art.

                born 1904 Philadelphia PA
                died 1967 Philadelphia PA

                education
                studied architecture - University of Pennsylvania
                studied painting - Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

                public collections
                Library of Congress Washington DC
                Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC
                National Gallery Washington DC
                Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia
                University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia


                Living Rocks: Benton Spruance and the Lithographic Process

                Arcadia University Art Gallery is pleased to present “Living Rocks: Benton Spruance and the Lithographic Process” on display through Dec. 17, 2017.

                Benton Spruance (1904-1967) was an internationally recognized printmaker, educator and leading figure in the Philadelphia art community. Known during his lifetime as the "Dean of Philadelphia Lithographers," his pioneering work in color lithography brought forth innumerable accolades, including two Guggenheim Fellowships. The exhibition explores Spruance’s commitment to the medium with which he was so closely associated by presenting the preliminary materials generated during the painstaking process of producing his completed works. Lithography (from the Greek word “lithos,” meaning stone) is a method for generating prints requiring multiple steps that involves drawing with touche, a liquid oil-based ink onto a block of limestone. The image is subsequently etched chemically into the stone’s smooth surface and its reverse is transferred to paper by placing the sheet atop the stone and running both through a press. On display will be examples of Spruance’s sketches (rendered in ink, pastel or paint), resulting proofs, and color tests alongside examples of the finished prints. These pairings have been selected to represent various stages of visual evolution throughout Spruance’s long and prolific career.


                Left: Installation view, In case: Moby Dick: The Passion of Ahab (1968), portfolio of twenty-six color offset photolithographs, photo: Sam Fritch Right: Installation view, proofs of Small Dancer (1954) and Sandra (1954), photo: Sam Fritch

                The show begins with samples from the 1930s and 40s that are distinguished by their rigorous, structural design and socially conscious imagery influenced by American Regionalist era artists such as Thomas Hart Benton. It then proceeds into an exploration of more gestural, abstracted mythological, biblical, and literary figures that dominated his later output. The context generated by these combinations will attempt to reveal how Spruance’s devotion to this demanding, step-by-step process impacted the development of his imagery.

                Benton Spruance consulting on a student's lithography stone in the printmaking studio of Brookside Hall, (now the Benton Spruance Art Center), circa 1965. Courtesy University Archive

                Beginning his career at Beaver College in 1926 as a part-time instructor while still a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Spruance was made a full professor and chair of the Art Department in 1933, a position he held for 34 years. He remains the only active Beaver College professor to have also served on the school’s Board of Trustees.

                On campus he was known as a gifted lecturer on the subject of art history – unregistered students would regularly attend his courses– and as a demanding but compassionate mentor in the studio. His involvement with the Philadelphia Art. Commission in 1953 led to a city ordinance requiring that one percent of the cost for construction of new public buildings be allocated to the creation and placement of works of art. This "percent for the arts" model has been emulated by many other cities and has become one of the cornerstones for funding of public art in America. Curated by Exhibitions Coordinator Matthew Borgen, this show – the first to present the artist’s process in detail – coincides both with the 50th anniversary of Spruance’s death, as well as with the completion, shortly thereafter, of the expansion to Brookside Hall begun in 1966 under his guidance. This complex was dedicated as the Benton Spruance Art Center in 1969 and still serves as the home of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts today.


                Artist: Benton Murdock Spruance (1904-1967)

                When he returned to the U.S. he began to work in color lithography, the field that would become his specialty. Spruance eventually became an internationally known artist whose art is in the permanent collection of numerous art museums around the world including the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He twice received prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships for his art. Spruance directed the printmaking department at the Philadelphia College of Art and the art department at Beaver College. He won many awards during his lifetime including the Philadelphia Art Alliance Medal of Achievement in 1965.


                Print Round-Up: Superbowl Edition

                On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks will face off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Whether you are a fan of Tom Brady and the Patriots or your allegiances lie with the defensive-minded Seahawks, the game (and accompanying commercials, half-time show, and viewing parties) should result in an entertaining and fun event. To celebrate, we are sharing several of our football prints- both antique and modern- on the blog. Enjoy!

                Big Game Bartlett Pears. Color lithograph, c. 1930’s. Image size 10 7/8 x 7 3/8″ (276 x 187mm). Great image of football player with ball, in a stadium. The Big Game is the Cal Berkeley vs Stanford match, the grower graduated from Berkeley. Shipper: Dennis W. Leary. Origin: Walnut Grove, Sacramento Delta CA. Original fruit crate label. Before the use of mass produced cardboard boxes, fruit growers, packers and shippers printed labels and attached them to the wooden fruit crates or boxes used in shipping. Distributors would use catchy titles, images, and slogans to set themselves apart from other fruit brands. LINK.

                Football. Sybil Andrews. Four-color linocut, 1937. Edition 60. Image size 9 3/8 x 12 1/2″ (237 x 317 mm). LINK.

                Football (untitled). Edith Derry Willson. Etching, softground, c. 1940. Image size 7 x 9 15/16″ (178 x 252 mm).

                Hole in the Line.Joseph W. Golinkin. Lithograph, c.1935. Edition 50. Image size 13 3/4 x 19 13/16″ (349 x 504 mm). LINK.

                Holiday in Camp – Soldiers Playing “Foot-Ball”. Winslow Homer. Published by Harper’s Weekly, New York. Wood engraving, Jul. 15, 1865. A football scrimmage turned melee. Image size 9 1/4 x 13 3/4″ (234 x 349 mm). LINK

                Missing the Tackle. Rosamond Tudor. Sepia etching, c. 1930. Image size 6 3/4 x 10 3/4″ (173 x 273 mm).

                A Day With the Yale Team. Frederick Sackrider Remington. Harper’s Weekly, New York. Photoengraving, hand colored, 1893. Seven vignettes of football players. Image size 13 7/8 x 8 1/2″ (353 x 218 mm).

                The Princeton Yale Foot-Ball Match at the Berkeley Oval. T. de Thulstrup. Published by Harper’s Weekly, New York. Wood engraving, Dec. 7, 1889. Image size 13 1/2 x 19 1/2″ (345 x 496 mm.). LINK.

                Short Gain.Benton Murdoch Spruance. Drybrush drawing, c.1935. Signed in pencil, center right “Spruance.” Image size 13 x 18 1/4″ (331 x 464 mm). LINK.

                Foot-Ball – “Collared”.Published in Harper’s Weekly, New York. Wood engraving with modern handcoloring, Dec. 1, 1883. Good condition and color. LINK.

                Share this post:

                Like this:


                Contents

                Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Alexander and Annie Spruance. He was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Α] Spruance attended Indianapolis public schools and graduated from Shortridge High School. From there, he went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906, and received further, hands on education in electrical engineering a few years later. His first duty would be aboard the battleship USS Iowa (BB-4), an 11,400 ton veteran of the Spanish-American War. His seagoing career included command of the USS Osborne, four other destroyers, and the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41).

                In 1916 he aided in the fitting out of the USS Pennsylvania and he served on board her from her commissioning in June, 1916 until November 1917. During the last year of World War I he was assigned as Assistant Engineer Officer of the New York Naval Shipyard, and carried out temporary duty in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. Β]

                In 1924, as Bill Halsey was preparing to turn over command of destroyer Osborne to Spruance, he advised the bridge crew that they should not let Spruance's quiet manner deceive them into thinking they were getting anything but an outstandingly competent commander. The crew soon learned that Spruance liked a quiet bridge, without extraneous chit-chat or the use of first names, and with orders given concisely and clearly. In an incident in the harbor of Bizerte in French Tunisia, Osborne was anchored in 6 fathoms, or 36 feet, of water. A distraught torpedo officer rushed to the bridge and reported, "Captain, we've just dropped a depth charge over the stern!"

                "Well, pick it up and put it back," was Spruance's measured response. Γ]

                Notwithstanding their different personalities, Spruance and Halsey were close friends. In fact, Spruance had a knack for getting along with difficult people, including his friend Kelly Turner, the hotheaded commander of 5th Fleet's amphibious force. One exception was John Towers, a constant critic of Spruance, whom Spruance came to despise for his naked ambition. Δ]

                Spruance began attendance at the Naval War College in 1926, and graduated in 1927. He also held several engineering, intelligence, staff and Naval War College positions up to the 1940s. On February 26, 1940 Captain Spruance reported as Commandant of the TENTH Naval District with headquarters at San Juan, Puerto Rico. On October 1 he was promoted to Rear Admiral. On August 1, 1941, he finished his tour in Puerto Rico.


                Object of the Week: The People Work

                May Day’s origins go as far back as the ancient world, where it was a festival celebrating spring, but more recently has become a day to honor workers and the labor movement. Although the United States officially observes Labor Day in September, May Day remains a day of international significance whose beginnings can be traced back to Chicago’s Haymarket riot of 1886.

                In this lithograph by Benton Spruance circa 1935, titled The People Work: Noon, the artist captures the bustling and dynamic energy of New York City at noon. One of a series of four prints by the artist, each print captures a moment in the day: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night. In Noon, it as if we see a play in two simultaneous acts. On the bottom level, construction workers take a break from their digging and hammering to eat lunch. Sitting and standing in small groups—surrounded by I-beams, ladders, and an excavator—this moment of respite is at odds with the scene above. With an energy akin to Pike Place Market at lunchtime, the street-level scene is replete with traffic and crowds of people donning suits and dresses. The few individuals not in a rush lean over the railing to view the construction site below.

                Widely considered the artist’s most successful and ambitious series, “they [The People Work] present a wealth of scenes and imagery, tied together in space and in simultaneity by various witty and ingenious devices.”[1] Indeed, by dividing Noon into sections, we are privy to the kinds of work—and leisure—that are vital to our daily lives, as well as the imagined identities of the city’s inhabitants.

                Though Spruance’s juxtaposition of work and relaxation might appear straightforward, it is important to remember that the universal eight-hour workday is an element of our modern workweek, and a hard-fought battle at that. In fact, it was not until 1938 that Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), limiting our workweeks to 40 hours. And while Spruance may not have intentionally broken his series into a structure resembling the slogan of the Eight-Hour Movement–“eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will”—it’s an important reminder this May Day.


                Watch the video: Oscar Benton - Bensonhurst Blues. by MusicaGradevole