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Cross Road--Still Life

ca. 1933-1934 Paul Benjamin Born: New York, New York 1902 Died: Bennington, Vermont 1982 oil on canvas 28 1/4 x 26 1/4 in. (71.6 x 66.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service 1965.18.18 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

Rural Free Delivery service brought word of the outside world to this dairy farm via mail and newspaper boxes conveniently located on the farmer’s property. Artist Paul Benjamin, who lived in New York, was obviously charmed by this rustic assortment of wooden and metal boxes mounted on poles leaning at conflicting angles. He left the boxes and the road sign without lettering, allowing the setting of this rustic still life to read as a universal American farm rather than a particular family’s home and place of business.

Benjamin wrote to Juliana Force, chairman of the New York Region of the Public Works of Art Project, that he was painting "based upon sketches made in and around Arlington, in southern Vermont." For the urban artist, this small town and the surrounding farmland between the Taconic and the Green mountains must have seemed worlds away from the anxieties of Depression-era New York. In Vermont there were no crowds of artists keenly competing for limited opportunities. Yet Benjamin's unpretentious canvas did well in national competition; it was one of thirty-two PWAP works to win a coveted spot in the White House.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Keywords

Architecture - farm - barn

Landscape - farm

Landscape - road

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - New York City

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Paul Benjamin

Born: New York, New York 1902 Died: Bennington, Vermont 1982