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Fletcher Benton

"In examining Benton's oeuvre of the last thirty years, one might almost characterize his work as an homage to the square ... Like Albers, who created monochromatic compositions of squares within squares, Benton varies the structural appearance of the square. But in contrast to Albers, who laid the foundations for minimal art ... [Benton's] formal vocabulary is not to be characterized as minimalist but rather as constructivist. His compositions do not seek a meditative peace, like the paintings of Albers, but rather strive for a structural balance in movement. Benton's sculptural forms, abstractions, citations, and kinetic rhythms borrow from real life. Marked by cosmic but not transcendent tendencies, by physics but not metaphysics, by ideas but not theoretical ideology, his works seek nature and humans as partners in dialogue."

- Gerhard Kolberg

Biography Image Right

The artist in his studio c. 2014

Born in Jackson, Ohio, in 1931, Fletcher Benton showed an early talent for art. From early childhood, Benton’s mother allowed him to use the family’s basement as an art studio and enrolled him in a local painting course. Benton also undertook an apprenticeship with a sign painter, after which he opened his own sign painting business at the age of fourteen. Though he would later explore different avenues of artistic expression, lettering and sign painting remained a near-constant presence in his artistic practice for the rest of his life.

Following a brief stint in the US Navy, Benton enrolled at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with the intent of pursuing its pre-med program. His interests quickly returned to painting, however, and he completed his degree in fine art in 1956. After graduating Benton relocated to San Francisco, California, where he immersed himself in the city’s vibrant artistic community.

In 1961, at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Benton had his first major solo show, a measure of his rising status as an artist. In 1964, however, a promised show at Gump’s Gallery was abruptly cancelled. This rejection sparked a radical transformation in the artist’s practice, and he began exploring Hard-Edge abstraction with a constructivist bent. Drawing on his knowledge of lettering, Benton debuted a series of kinetic works in a solo show in Los Angeles the next year. The kinetic and abstract elements of his new work led to increased interest from audiences, curators, and critics, and between 1965 and 1967 he participated in numerous high-profile exhibitions nationwide.

Biography Image Left

Tilted Donut No 2

2003

Cor-ten steel

16 x 13 x 8 feet

488 x 396 x 244 cm

                                                                                                                                                While he continued to exhibit, in 1967 Benton began teaching at California State University, San Jose, where he taught until retiring in 1986. In 2003 he received his first of many major public commissions: Steel Watercolor TriangleRing, a 66- foot-high red-painted steel sculpture installed at the Barbarossaplatz interchange train station in Cologne, Germany. Benton continued his work up until his death in 2019 at the age of eighty-eight.

Benton’s contributions to kinetic art and sculpture were recognized in his lifetime through numerous awards, honors, and public commissions. His works are also included in the collections of such prestigious institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, among others. 

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails

Folded Square Alphabet Y

2018

Powder-coated steel

60 x 60 x 60 inches

152.4 x 152.4 x 152.4cm

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Folded Square Alphabet A, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet B, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet H, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet J, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet P, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet  X, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Folded Square Alphabet  Z, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

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Steel Watercolor Lily Belle

1992

Painted Steel

114 x 21 x 21 inches

289.6 x 53.3 x 53.3cm

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Balanced/Unbalanced Table/Cube

1993

Bronze

27 x 13 x 14 inches

68.6 x 33 x 35.6cm

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Folded Circle Ring Study No. 8

1997

Steel with patina

14 x 14 x 14 inches

35.6 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm

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Stainless Steel Donut No. 5

2012

Stainless Steel

73 x 36 x 45 inches

185.4 x 91.4 x 114.3cm

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Folded Circle Study with Leaf

2005

Steel with patina

14 x 11 x 13 inches

35.6 x 27.9 x 33cm

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Folded Circle Ring

2006

Painted Steel

14 x 14 x 14 inches

35.6 x 35.6 x 35.6cm

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Synchronetic C-3095

1969

Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Plexiglas and Syncron Motor Kinetic Light

57.5 x 27.25 x 10 inches

146.1 x 69.2 x 25.4cm

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Synchronetic C-333 S

1970

Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Plexiglas and Synchron Motor

61 x 20 x 15 inches

154.9 x 50.8 x 38.1cm

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Synchronetic Yin and Yang R

1970

Stainless steel, Plexiglas

23 x 19 x 5 inches

58.4 x 48.3 x 12.7cm

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Interlocking “L”, Black and Blue

1970

Aluminum and Plexiglas

18 x 18 x 5 inches

45.7 x 45.7 x 12.7cm

Inquire

Folded Square Alphabet Y

2018

Powder-coated steel

60 x 60 x 60 inches

152.4 x 152.4 x 152.4cm

Folded Square Alphabet A, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet B, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet H, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet J, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet P, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet  X, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Folded Square Alphabet  Z, A.P.

2011

Painted Steel

12 x 12 x 12 inches

30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5cm

Steel Watercolor Lily Belle

1992

Painted Steel

114 x 21 x 21 inches

289.6 x 53.3 x 53.3cm

Balanced/Unbalanced Table/Cube

1993

Bronze

27 x 13 x 14 inches

68.6 x 33 x 35.6cm

Folded Circle Ring Study No. 8

1997

Steel with patina

14 x 14 x 14 inches

35.6 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm

Stainless Steel Donut No. 5

2012

Stainless Steel

73 x 36 x 45 inches

185.4 x 91.4 x 114.3cm

Folded Circle Study with Leaf

2005

Steel with patina

14 x 11 x 13 inches

35.6 x 27.9 x 33cm

Folded Circle Ring

2006

Painted Steel

14 x 14 x 14 inches

35.6 x 35.6 x 35.6cm

Synchronetic C-3095

1969

Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Plexiglas and Syncron Motor Kinetic Light

57.5 x 27.25 x 10 inches

146.1 x 69.2 x 25.4cm

Synchronetic C-333 S

1970

Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Plexiglas and Synchron Motor

61 x 20 x 15 inches

154.9 x 50.8 x 38.1cm

Synchronetic Yin and Yang R

1970

Stainless steel, Plexiglas

23 x 19 x 5 inches

58.4 x 48.3 x 12.7cm

Interlocking “L”, Black and Blue

1970

Aluminum and Plexiglas

18 x 18 x 5 inches

45.7 x 45.7 x 12.7cm

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