Press release: Museum will screen new film exploring the life of George Caleb Bingham

By | October 21, 2016

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 21, 2016—The Saint Louis Art Museum holds one of the world’s strongest collections of paintings by George Caleb Bingham, so it is fitting that the Museum will host the Nov. 6 St. Louis premiere of The American Artist: The Life & Times of George Caleb Bingham, a new documentary film that places Bingham among pre-eminent American painters like Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, and Thomas Hart Benton.

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Often using historical reenactments, the documentary chronicles Bingham’s life from his early years as an aspiring painter through his rise to commercial success and artistic sophistication. The American Artist examines the struggles and tragedies that informed Bingham’s work, and ponders how the Civil War irrevocably altered both the artist and the landscape he so lovingly rendered.


Nancy W. Work, Christopher “Kit” Bond, and Charles E. Valier

In 1974, the St. Louis Mercantile Library proposed selling a trove of more than 100 of Bingham’s preparatory drawings to fund air conditioning for the building. To keep these valuable drawings in Missouri, then-Gov. Christopher “Kit” Bond launched a statewide campaign to raise funds to buy the drawings and place them in a trust to be owned by the citizens of Missouri. Today, the drawings of the Bingham Trust reside at the Saint Louis Art Museum and Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

To complement the film’s release, Bingham Trust President Charles E. Valier will deliver the free presentation “George Caleb Bingham’s Political Career and Its Impact on His Art” at 11 am on Thursday, Nov. 3 and 6 pm on Friday, Nov. 4.

The film will be shown at the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Farrell Auditorium at 2 pm on Sunday, Nov. 6. The screening is free, but tickets are required.

Before and after the film, the founders of the Bingham Trust will recount the incredible story of their successful campaign to save an important piece of America’s artistic heritage. “Saving the Bingham Drawings for the People of Missouri”—a free panel discussion with Bond, Valier, and Nancy W. Work—will be held on Nov. 6 at 11:15 am, 12:30 pm, and 3:30 pm.

Also on Nov. 6, visitors can learn more about Bingham’s unique artistic process and subject matter in a tour of the American galleries and the Print Study Room led by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings and photographs. Space is limited for the free tours, which depart from Sculpture Hall at 11:15 am, 12:30 pm, and 3:30 pm.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493,