A Magic Place | The Art of Claude Bentley

November 2023

“To preserve the initial impulse, I like to finish as quickly as possible. As I work, I like to build the painting to a crescendo of activity while retaining areas of rest, of inactivity.”  - Claude Bentley

Claude Bentley was a painter, lithographer, muralist, and teacher born in New York City in 1915. He primarily lived and worked in Chicago. After studying at Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago, he returned as a professor to teach at the Art Institute, as well as the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, and the North Shore Art League in Winnetka. In addition, he gave numerous lectures and demonstrations.

From 1941 to 1945, Bentley served in North Africa with the armed forces and in France. His time there sparked an interest in primitive African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian art, of which he became an avid collector. These fascinations informed his geometric style, and gave a tribal feel to his Abstract Expressionist art.

As a muralist, he completed commissions for the Plaza del lago Shopping Center in Wilmette and 3600 Lake Shore Drive Building in Chicago. In 1949, he became a member of the Chicago Society of Artists.

Video Highlight

Honorable Mention, Print Club, Philadelphia, 1948

Honorable Mention, Art Institute of Chicago, 1949

Second Prize, Mural Competition, Taxco, Mexico, 1949

Purchase Award, University of Illinois, 1949

Honorable Mention, Painting, Art institute of Chicago, 1950

Honorable Mention, Painting, Terry Institute, 1952

Watercolor Award, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1952

Purchase Award, Denver Art Museum, 1954

Pauline Palmer Award, Art institute of Chicago, 1955

Magnificent Mile Award, Painting, Chicago, 1955

Milwaukee Journal Award, Painting, 1957

First Prize, Brotherhood Week Art Exhibit, Chicago, 1959

Purchase Award, Sarasota Art Association National Exhibit, 1959

First Purchase Award, Village Art Fair, Oak Park, Illinois, 1959

John G. Curtis, Jr. Award, Art Institute of Chicago

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