Gerrit Beneker

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Gerrit Beneker at his easel in 1915

Gerrit Albertus Beneker (January 26, 1882 – October 23, 1934) was an American painter and illustrator best known for his paintings of industrial scenes and for his poster work in World War I.

Biography[edit]

Beneker was born on January 26, 1882 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Bartel Albertus Beneker, who had immigrated from Serooskerke in the Netherlands, and Pauline Catherine Steketee.[1][2][3] He first studied at the Chicago Art Institute, where his teachers included John Vanderpoel and Frederick Richardson; later he transferred to the Art Students League in New York.[4] In September 1907 he married Flora Judd Van Vranken from Marcellus, New York, with whom he would have four children.[3]

After working as an illustrator in New York, he became a student of Charles Webster Hawthorne in 1912 at the Cape Cod School of Art;[5] although his work brought about frequent moves, he returned to the area in the summers and in 1920 bought a summer house in Truro, Massachusetts.[6]

"Sure! We'll finish the job"

In July 1918, Beneker was hired, under the title of "Expert Aid, Navy Department", to create posters and illustrations for the war effort.[7] It was in this period that he painted his most familiar work, "Sure We'll Finish the Job", which sold over three million copies.[8] Later he spent four years painting workers of the Hydraulic Pressed Steel Company in Cleveland, Ohio as part of a labor-management relations improvement project;[8] similar projects were carried out at the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York and at the Rohm and Haas plant in Philadelphia.[6]

He died on 23 October 1934 in Truro.[3]

Beneker was one of the founders of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.[9] His papers are held by the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution.[1]

Analysis[edit]

Beneker's output was prodigious, with some five hundred works in oil produced over a thirty year period, exclusive of his many illustrations.[6] The latter appeared in over eighty publications including Scientific American and Harper's Weekly.[6] He was also noted for his Ivory Soap advertisements.[6] Most of his work consists of portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings of industrial and manual labor, and it is for the last that he is best known.[6]

Beneker's industrial paintings are optimistic and uplift the common laborer. James Guimond lists him, along with such other artists as Alfred Stieglitz, Joseph Stella, and Margaret Bourke-White, as a participant in "a popular genre of industrial art that was a kind of sooty romanticism."[10] His industrial paintings toured the country, and Beneker was in great demand as a lecturer.[8]

While his portraiture and industrial works are conservatively realistic, his landscapes are noted for their impressionism.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gerrit A. Beneker papers, 1869–1972". Archives of American Art. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  2. ^ Philpott, A. J. (November 1919). "The Brush That Draws Them Together". The Red Cross Magazine: 18–22, 66, 68. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  3. ^ a b c Gerrit A Beneker at ancestry.com
  4. ^ Levy, Florence Nightingale, ed. (1913). "Beneker, Gerrit A.". American Art Annual (American Federation of Arts) 10: 215. 
  5. ^ Bakker, James R. "Charles Webster Hawthorne Founds the Cape Cod School of Art". Traditional Fine Arts Organization. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Biography for Gerrit Beneker". AskArt. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  7. ^ "Work and Fight". The Outlook 120 (7): 204. October 9, 1918. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  8. ^ a b c "Gerrit Albertus Beneker". artnet.com. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  9. ^ "PAAM's Historic Archives and Scholarly Resources". Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  10. ^ Guimond, James (1991). American Photography and the American Dream. UNC Press. p. 86. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  11. ^ McQuaid, Cate (2003-08-29). "Museum's exhibits celebrate Provincetown's artistic heritage". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 

External links[edit]