The Hollow Man

Program Note

Thomas Benrimo (1887 - 1958) was an American painter whose artwork during the early 20th Century broke artistic traditions of subject matter, form, and purpose. Benrimo was strongly influenced by the Armory Show of 1913, an exhibition in New York where he first came into contacct with the modern art from Europe. Despite suffering from tuberculosis, Benrimo garnered a successful reputation as a stage designer and commercial artist in New York while teaching at the Pratt Institute. Despite his success, Benrimo abandoned his positions of stature in New York due to health complications, and moved to Taos, New Mexico with his wife, where he was able to paint full-time.

From 1939 onward, Benrimo's style evolved through periods of Cubism, Surrealism, and pure abstraction. Fascinated by nature and landscapes, Benrimo said, "abstract art departs from reality and nature only to draw far-reaching conclusions about reality. A legitimate abstract work of art can be produced only on the basis of a profound knowledge of nature".

In writing The Hollow Man, my intent was not to approach the music as a transliteration of what was on the canvas, but to incorporate the artistic devices used by the original artist and apply them through the medium of sound. In continuing this thought process, I sought to utilize the same sources of inspiration that Benrimo may have drawn upon during the creation of his work.

One of these sources, a poem by T. S. Elliot, similarly titled The Hollow Men, expresses the hopelessness and despair of the post-World War I period. In conjunction with my experiences of the Southwest's landscape, I used Elliot's poem and Benrimo's techniques in order to create what I hope to be a meaningful work of art.


Violin I, II, III, IV




General Info

Year(s) composed: 2013

Duration: 7:00'


April 20th, 2013

Yaunmao Li, violin / Yerim Kim, violin / 

Sabrina Salamone, violin / Clarice Collins, violin/

Emilio Vazquez, viola / Maura Timmerman, violoncello

Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ