Bes-Ben (American, 1898–1988), hat (bullfighters), 1950s, cotton, wool, silk, synthetic fibers, animal hide, metal, wood, plastic, 8-1/4 × 9 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Gift of the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2008.14 © Bes-Ben.
Bes-Ben: The Mad Hatter of Chicago
Known for his elaborate, humorous, and flamboyant creations, Benjamin B. Green-Field (1898-1988), the creative genius behind the Bes-Ben label, designed hats using a variety of everyday objects and a wide array of unusual trimmings. The hats were adorned with bizarre items such as fake cigarettes, little stuffed animals, plastic fruits and vegetables, and a range of bejeweled and decorative objects. Many of the wealthy women of Chicago and the Midwest were among Green-Field's clients, and his hats were popular with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland. More than 60 of these hats, many of them never before exhibited, are on view as part of the exhibition.