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John Steuart Curry - American Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - John Steuart Curry (1897 - 1946)

Born in 1897, John Steuart Curry grew up on a farm in Kansas. From 1919 to 1926 he was employed as a magazine illustrator. He then spent a year in Europe before arriving in New York to encounter his mentor, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. When he began painting, Curry found his subjects from his mid-western roots, his most famous works being Baptism in Kansas and Hogs Killing a Rattlesnake. In 1930’s, Curry became a leading figure of the Regionalism movement and was commissioned to produce several murals, the most notable of which were located in Topeka, Kansas. He was noted for his paintings depicting life in his home state, Kansas. Along with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, he was hailed as one of the three great painters of American Regionalism of the first half of the twentieth century. Despite popularity among the rest of the country, native Kansans were less than thrilled with his works. What Curry believed to be images that expressed positive virtues about the place he remembered from childhood were conceived to be making fun of the worst aspects of the state. Kansans found the inclusion of outdoor baptisms and tornados to perpetuate negative stereotypes associated with Kansas and lead to public embarrassment.

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