Slow Train Through Arkansas

Thomas Hart Benton
American, 1889-1975
Slow Train Through Arkansas, 1941

As a leader of the Regionalist movement, Benton was dedicated to the representation of American life, addressing landscapes, workers, and historical subjects in work that ranged from small prints to room-sized murals. Occasionally controversial, always distinctive, Benton's output portrays a determinedly American self-image during the turbulent 1930s and 1940s. In Slow Train Through Arkansas, Benton references a similarly named book of railroad humor sold on trains and in railroad stations; punch lines referred to trains "catching up" with cows. Railroads constantly endangered and killed stock across the South and West. Taking the slow train suggested a journey fraught with the old ways of the open range and obstacles to progress. The idea of the modern depended on an equally powerful idea of its opposite - the slow train.

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About this Document

  • Extent:
  • Citation: N-730
  • Date: 1941