John Steuart Curry (1897 - 1946)

Birth date: 11/14/1897 Death date: 8/29/1946  
Birth location: Dunavant, Kansas Death location: Madison, Wisconsin  
Media: Graphic Art , Illustration , Mural , Painting , Sculpture Web site:
Comprehensive (file rating) - Major Wisconsin artist file that includes comprehensive documentation on artist's life that can be researched on site at MWA.


John Steuart Curry
Born 1897 in Dunavant, Kansas
Died 1946 in Madison, Wisconsin
In 1934, Time Magazine hailed John Steuart Curry as one of the three leading Regionalist American artists of his time. Curry, together with Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and Grant Wood of Iowa, and hundreds of lesser-known regionalist artists, presented the virtues of the Midwest landscape, common people, farms and the fertile land.  Their “Regionalist” style of painting was also known as “American Scene” painting.  Curry began his studies at the Art Institute of  Chicago in 1916, but by 1918 had moved to Pennsylvania where he remained until he was hired by Harvey Dunn to be an illustrator for his magazine. The Saturday Evening Post paid $25 for Curry’s first published illustration of the train that passed his father’s farm.
In 1926 Curry returned to school, attending the Schoukhaieff  (Russian Academy) in Paris.  In 1936, he became the first artist-in-residence at any American university at the University of  Wisconsin-Madison. Here, one of Curry’s primary responsibilities was to serve what is now known as the Wisconsin Regional Art Program.  The artists that benefited from this program were known as the Wisconsin Regional Art Association, whose purpose was to encourage and teach art to avocational, and a few vocational, artists in rural Wisconsin.  Beginning in 1940 Curry would travel the state judging the art exhibitions and offering critiques and encouragement.  Curry continued to create his own work, which was included in important exhibitions throughout the United States.  Primarily recognized as a painter, Curry had some expertise as a sculptor.  Interestingly, given his support of  grass-roots artists, and depiction of  laborers, his work was shown at an American national exhibition held in Moscow, in the Soviet Union in 1959.  Other Wisconsin artists included in that exhibition were Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Tobey and Karl Knath.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

1930 Whitney Studio Club, New York, New York
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Feragil Galleries, New York, New York (also 1935) 
University of  Wisconsin 
1938 Hudson D. Walker Gallery, New York, New York 
Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, New York 
Syracuse University, New York 
1957 University Of Kansas, Lawrence (also 1970)
1969 Madison Art Center, Wisconsin
1971 National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1998 Inventing the Midwest, Elvehjem Art Museum, Madison, Wisconsin

Selected Group Exhibitions

1933 Northwest Print Makers - Carnegie Institute
200 Years of American Painting,  Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, Wichita Art Museum, Kansas,  Tate Gallery, London, England,
Akademie der Kunste, Amerika: Traum und Depression, 1920/40, Berlin, Germany
John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood: A Portrait of    Rural America, Cedar Rapids, Art Center,
John Steuart Curry, Aaron Bohrod, John Wilde: Leaders in Wisconsin Art,  Milwaukee Art Museum, WI
100 Years of Wisconsin Art, 1888-1988:  A Centennial Celebration, Milwaukee Art Museum, WI,
Early Wisconsin Ambiance:  Environments and Landscapes by Wisconsin's Early Artists 1880-1940,  West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts, Wisconsin (now known as West Bend Art Museum)
1992 Selections from the West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts' Permanent Collection of Regionalist and American Scene Painters, West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts, Wisconsin (now known as West Bend Art Museum) 
1996 Collecting the Art of Wisconsin:
The Early Years
, Bergstrom-Mahler Museum,
Neenah, Wisconsin
1998 John Steuart Curry: Life and Art Reexamined Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Selected Awards

2004 Recipient of one of the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Awards (The Wisconsin Visual Art Hall of Fame)
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