Fletcher Benton (American, b.1931), born in Jackson, OH, moved to San Francisco in the 1960s after receiving a BFA from Miami University, Oxford, OH, in 1956. In San Francisco, he taught at California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco Art Institute, and California State University. In his own work, he focused on geometric associations that are apparent in his later, large-scale sculptural works. Benton taught himself sign painting as a young man, and, through this process, became enthralled with the inherent geometric forms that comprise the letters he was painting. Benton initially experimented with abstract painting, but the limitations of the medium drove him toward kinetic sculpture.
Throughout his oeuvre, Benton plays with shapes, lines, balance, and movement to create gravity-defying sculptures of all sizes, as well as abstract geometric works on paper. Benton began his celebrated Alphabet series—comprised of 26 large-scale steel sculptures of the letters of the alphabet—in the 1970s, and the kinetic aspect of his sculptures became less important than its form and medium. In his manipulation of a two-dimensional sheet of metal into a three-dimensional painted steel sculpture, Benton brought a particular life to these letters, imbuing these stationary pieces with the kinetic energy found in his earlier work. In 2008, Benton received the International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.
His work has been widely exhibited since the 1950s, and can be found in the permanent collections of numerous museums and corporations, including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Guggenheim, Las Vegas, Nevada; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Garden, Otterlo, the Netherlands; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.