Fletcher Benton Biography

Fletcher Benton




Fletcher Benton was born in Jackson, Ohio on February 25, 1931. Benton earned his BFA at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio in 1956. He arrived in San Francisco in the midst of the Beat Generation movement and Benton's early paintings are noticeably inspired by this artistic and social spontaneity. He worked as a sign painter, which provided him with a familiarity of the alphabetical shapes which arise in his later work. As a sculptor he began to work with movement in geometric pattern pieces and boxes which he was familiar with from his work in commercial signs. This was at the beginning of the kinetic movement; Benton worked largely in isolation, unaware of other efforts of kinetic artists. His early works of this series were exhibited at Gump’s Gallery in San Francisco.

Quickly abandoning typical painting or drawing, Benton composed sculptures that play between production and fascination. Balance, perception, kinetic energy and movement all inspire Benton's various series utilizing rods, balls, sheets, boxes and edges of metal. As his work got larger Benton created a series of maquettes to explore the geometry and visual power of steel. His sculpture often defies gravity with welded shapes perched seemingly precariously atop each other. His choice of materials reflects his concern with the unique color, tonality and rich luster inherent in metals. The simplicity of each shape abstractly reveal forms of nature, geometry and human activity. Additionally, Benton taught at San Francisco Art Institute from 1966 to 1967 and then moved on to teach at California State University, San Jose, where he stayed until 1986.

Benton has large-scale steel sculptures permanently installed world-wide including San Francisco’s Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, Grounds For Sculpture sculpture park in Hamilton, NJ, the city of Cologne, Germany, the city of Berlin, among others.

Fletcher Benton died in San Francisco, California on June 26, 2019.