Bent Franklin Larsen (1882), Artist

Galleries and Historical Information

Bent Franklin Larsen, 1882

A Biographical Sketch

Bent Franklin Larsen (commonly called 'BF') was born to Bent & Lorena Larsen on May 10, 1892. He graduated from school in the spring of 1899 and enrolled in the Snow Academy (now Snow College) in Ephraim, Utah. BF completed their three-year teaching course in only two years and was president of his class the year he graduated. It was at Snow Academy that he took his first art classes.

After graduating from Snow Academy, BF taught in the public schools for five years. While teaching in Cove, Utah, he invited an art supervisor to come to the school and teach. She had a talent for helping people see and recognize color, which she shared with most of the adults as well as the children. After teaching in Cove, he taught in Green River, Utah where he met his future wife. Then, he spent a year as principal of Monroe Elementary School in Monroe, Utah. In 1906 he left Monroe to attend the Brigham Young Academy and study art. It was here that BF took his first water color class. In September of 1907, he married Geneva Day. During the 1907-1908 school year he was employed as art teacher and art supervisor in the Springville, Utah district, but continued classes at Brigham Young University.

In June of 1908 BF received his diploma in Art and Manual Training and became a member of the Brigham Young University faculty and director of art from the training schools. He continued to study on a part-time basis. In the spring of 1912 he received his A.B. degree with a major in art and a minor in education. In the summer of 1919, while still teaching at the Brigham Young University and seven years after receiving his A.B. degree, Mr. Larsen started his graduate work in art and education at the University of Utah. After three summer sessions and an extension class, he received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Utah in 1922. It was during this time, that he wrote numerous articles for publication in some of the national art and art education magazines, as well as many of the local magazines. He also made time to do some creative work. He won the first and second prizes for his paintings at the Utah State Fair in September of 1915.

BF Larsen made arrangements at two different times to study in Europe. He took sabbatical leave from the Brigham Young University from September 1923 to October 1924 for his first trip. While in Europe, he studied under many well-known artists and visited many art galleries, studying the old masters' works. It was at this time that he was impressed with the idea that art fundamentals training helps rather than hinders free creative expression.

The second trip to Europe was made five years later. He left Provo, Utah in May of 1929. He began with a guided group of artists moving from one area and country to another visiting great museums and artists' studios. After five months of painting and traveling with this group, BF settled into a studio apartment in Paris, France and began studying at the André L'Hote School of Art. He painted a lot during this time, and his style evolved. He produced a great number of landscape canvases and sketches of the cities of Europe and Africa. His work began to show more movement and depth, and seemed to have a 'larger' approach. His strokes seemed naturally easy, vivid, strong and broad. In August of 1930, Larsen returned to Provo and resumed his position at BYU.

In 1931 he was given a full professorship at the college and made head of the Art Department. He served here for 22 years, and the department grew tremendously and gained greater prestige. During this time, he was constantly trying new techniques to develop as an artist. At one point, his art evolved to the more abstract -- the use of art elements became stronger with less definition of the subject.

He retired in September of 1953 after 45 years of service at the university. This allowed him more time to travel and paint. He judged art exhibits, exhibited his own work, wrote articles for newspapers, gave public lectures, and encouraged other artists. In 1960 he received the David O. McKay Humanities Award for distinguished service. He has paintings in public and private collections in a number of states and at least three foreign countries. BF Larsen passed away in Utah in January of 1970.

Source: A STUDY OF BENT FRANKLIN LARSEN AS ARTIST AND EDUCATOR By Max Edwin Bunnell July, 1962, A Thesis Presented to the Department of Art Brigham Young University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.