The Campanella Collection, curated by Vincent Campanella, stands as the largest single-owner assemblage of Benton’s drawings and studies outside the Benton Trust. The collection includes original paintings and sketches completed between 1917 and 1970. Unlike other major repositories, it is not confined to a single period or project. Instead, it showcases Benton’s vast artistic journey spanning six decades—from early influences of Synchromism to his nationally-acclaimed Regionalist works.
According to Benton scholar Henry Adams “No other body of Benton’s work, in a single place, provides such a varied record of his changes of subject matter and style.”
What makes the collection even more unique is its backstory—a tale of two artists. Vincent Campanella was not just a collector; he was also Benton’s friend and critic. Their relationship began in Kansas City in 1949, when Benton was a local celebrity and Campanella was a younger artist with a strong classical training. Over time, despite periods of strain and distance, their friendship rekindled, surviving even the seismic shifts in the art world, from Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism.
In the 1970s, this intriguing friendship yielded a trove of Benton’s paintings and sketches for Campanella, some likely as gratitude for completing Benton’s last unfinished mural. The works vary dramatically in style, finish, and quality, providing an artistic deep dive into Benton’s creative process and evolution.
The Campanella Collection offers a comprehensive look at Thomas Hart Benton’s artistic development across sixty years, enriched by the unique friendship between Benton and Vincent Campanella.
Benton author and scholar Henry Adams has reviewed the entire collection in person and written a detailed essay to accompany the auction. The essay explores the origin of the collection and the friendship between Thomas Hart Benton and Vincent Campanella.
Read the Henry Adams Campanella Collection essay here.