The Monuments Men and Thomas Hart Benton


A New School masterpiece made an unexpected showing in the movie The Monuments Men (2014). The film was about the European artworks that the Nazis scoured away in mines during World War II, hoping to gather, own, and control civilization. An eagle-eyed Mark Larrimore noticed a conspicuous American artwork featured in the trailer, however. Behind Matt Damon and George Clooney in a brief scene at the beginning of the movie, the mural Today by Thomas Hart Benton peeked out, stealing the scene.

The mural was made for the New School’s 66 W. 12th St. building and was sold in the 1980s to the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company when the school faced bankruptcy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently acquired the 10-panel mural and will be displaying the restored artwork in a room that mimics the original setting at the New School. (The installation is previewed here.)

The mural never appeared in a bar. Except in the movies.


Panel from "America Today." Metropolitan Museum of Art.