Fletcher Benton moved from a small town in Ohio to San Francisco in the late 1950s to pursue his dream of becoming a painter, yet found success as a sculptor. In the 1960s he began experimenting with kinetic sculpture, or art that moves. It was the golden age of kinetic art, and Benton’s colorful sculptures made of metal and plastic won him accolades from the art world.

In the late 1970s Benton abandoned kinetic art as quickly as he had picked it up, switching to a more traditional sculptor’s palette — bronze and steel. Today, Benton makes large-scale sculptures for private and public commissions, as well as collectors and museums. In 2008, the International Sculpture Center honors Benton with their lifetime achievement award.

Over the years, the materials and the scale of Benton’s work have radically changed, yet he has remained committed to geometric abstraction, drawing inspiration from the circle, the square, letters, and numbers. Spark visits Benton in his sculpture studio, and at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara during their exhibits “Flashing Back” and “Eye on the Sixties,” which feature an eclectic mix of paintings, drawings, and sculptures made in the 1960s.

Fletcher Benton 19 January,2016Spark
  • Array
  • Array
  • Array

Related Episodes


Benton, Ramos, and Riley

Meet artists whose work from the 1960s is still influential today.


Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor