Bent Franklin Larsen
B. F. Larsen (1882-1970)
Upon his mother's insistance, Larsen enrolled at Snow Academy in 1899, graduating two years later. Larsen then began his career as a teacher, first in Cove, Utah and then in Green River. in 1906, Larsen began taking classes at BYU. His teachers were so impressed with him that he was hired as a faculty member the following year (Waterstradt, )
On September 15, 1907, he married Geneva Day in the Manti Temple. They had five children -- Rex B., Eugene C., Celia G., Ronald F., and Grant A. Larsen.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at BYU in 1912 and his Master of Arts degree at the University of Utah in 1922. He also studied at several renowned institutions under gifted art teachers. He exhibited by invitation in many museums and galleries in the United States and abroad. His paintings, mainly landscapes, are found in numerous private collections in all of Western America, and were awarded many prizes (Special Program, 14).
He was affiliated with Brigham Young University from 1906 to 1958. For 22 of his 52 years of service he was chairman of the Art Department.
In his later years he has enjoyed a greater reputation as a highly artistic painter than ever before. He never stopped searching. He never stopped philosophizing on the principles of art, and above all he never stopped growing.Conan E. Mathews remarked:
Brother Larsen's true strength lies in his generous, open-minded attitude toward all types and styles of sincere creative expression. While his own work exhibits personal integrity and constancy of basic artistic values, he was willing to experiment, to study, and to search with those of the avant-garde. In his tolerance and breadth of understanding, he has been an inspiration to hundreds of students and painters in the intermountain region. The BYU Art Department under his leadership became known for all that was good in art expression and was never identified as being committed to one style over another. (Waterstradt, 87)
Through his teaching, writing, and example he promoted beauty and order in home, community, and Church. He awakened aesthetic awareness and made thousands conscious of the artistic qualities in architecture, landscaping, public parks, and city streets, knowing that full appreciation of these things makes for better citizenship, community morale, brotherly love, and understanding (Special Program, 14).
Reflecting on his childhood and its relationship to his art, Larsen said:
When I was a boy, I lived in a small town in south central Utah, and I was very proud of the town where I lived. I felt that it was the best town in the whole world . . . It just had to be the biggest and finest town anywhere . . . Then one day I climbed the mountain back of our town and could see over the hills that encircled it. You may imagine my surprise when I discovered that just over the hills there was another town, much larger than ours . . . Later in life, after I had visited some of the world's large cities, I decided that the town over the hills wasn't very big either.
All my life, I've been climbing the mountain backs of the towns of my complacency and fixed ideas of how things are, and have had to reassess the things in my life from a new and loftier point of view. (Waterstradt, 95)
The Bent F. Larsen Art Gallery is placed in the heart of the Harris Fine Arts Center, a space that penetrates through three floors. A comprehensive gallery program permits use of all areas in a continually changing exhibit program.
Six of Larsen's paintings are in the Utah State Fine Art Collection.
- Waterstradt, Jean Anne, ed., They Glady Taught: Ten BYU Professors, Brigham Young University and the Emeritus Club, 1987, volume I, pp. 80-99.
- Special Program for Naming of Areas, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Tuesday, November 23, 1965 at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.
- Sixty pages from the life of B.F. Larsen, artist and teacher, by B.F. Larsen
- B.F. Larsen, artist, by Celia Larsen Luce and Willard Luce
- A study of Bent Franklin Larsen as artist and educator, by Max Edwin Bunnell