A retrospective of Christopher W. Benson’s work, this exhibition illustrates the evolution of Benson’s style over the course of his forty-two year career as a painter. Raised in Newport and Providence, 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. As a representational painter, Benson absorbed various influences but nevertheless created something altogether new. 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.
Christopher Benson studied at RISD, where he earned his BFA in painting. He has had solo exhibitions at the Paul Thiebaud Gallery (San Francisco, CA), LewAllen Contemporary and Gerald Peters Gallery (both in Santa Fe, NM), the Virginia Lynch Gallery (Tiverton, RI) and Jessica Hagen Fine Art (Newport, RI). He has also participated in group exhibitions at the National Academy of Design (NYC), The Phoenix Art Museum (AZ), MoMA (NYC), and the Washington Art Association (Washington CT) where he won a juror’s prize in 2015. His work resides in the permanent collections at the Newport Art Museum, Redwood Library and Athenaeum, MoMA, the Stanford University Schools of Law and of Aeronautics, and in the special collections at the Stanford University and RISD Libraries.
A full-color catalogue accompanies this exhibition and will be available in mid-July.
With thanks for the generous support of The EJMP Fund for Philanthropy, Elizabeth "Lisette" Prince, trustee.