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John Steuart Curry
Birth: Nov. 14, 1897
Dunavant
Jefferson County
Kansas, USA
Death: Aug. 29, 1946
Madison
Dane County
Wisconsin, USA

Painter, Muralist. Along with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, he stood at the forefront of the Regionalist art movement of the 1930s and 1940s. He is noted for his dramatic scenes of Midwestern rural life, typically set in his native Kansas. Many have a theme of man pitted against nature. Curry's mural for the Kansas State Capitol building in Topeka, "The Tragic Prelude" (1940) - an apocalyptic vision of abolitionist John Brown and the coming of the Civil War - is considered his masterpiece. Other outstanding works include "Tornado Over Kansas" (1929), "Baptism in Kansas" (1929), "Spring Shower" (1931), "The Flying Codonas" (1932), "The Line Storm" (1934), "The Mississippi" (1935), "The Return of Private Davis from the Argonne" (1940), and murals for the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior buildings in Washington, DC (1936 to 1938). Curry was born in Dunavant, Jefferson County, and raised on his father's farm. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago, and later spent a year in Paris studying the old masters. His first exhibition (1924) was at the National Academy of Design in New York. During the 1920s he lived in Westport, Connecticut and supported himself as an illustrator for such magazines as the "Saturday Evening Post" and "Boy's Life", which sharpened the strong narrative element of his style. He also briefly traveled with a circus, gathering material. Curry gained national recognition in 1930 when Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney purchased "Baptism in Kansas" for the Whitney Museum in New York. From 1936 until his death he was artist-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A proud Kansan, Curry viewed his 1937 invitation to decorate the statehouse in Topeka as his greatest challenge. He conceived an ambitious cycle of 10 murals depicting regional history from the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors to the present, and which would span the building's rotunda and east and west wings. The commission was controversial from the start. Curry was by then the state's most famous painter, but his work was not popular there because its typically unglamorous subject matter was perceived as showing Kansas in a negative light. His first statehouse painting, "The Tragic Prelude", with its images of John Brown, bloodshed, tornadoes and prarie fires, seemed to confirm his critics' worst fears. In the end he completed only one other mural in the series, "Kansas Pastoral" (1940), amidst nitpicking public scrutiny and a debate over what was "appropriate" for government-sponsored art. In 1941 the legislature bowed to pressure from local civic groups and passed a resolution barring the removal of marble wainscoting from the rotunda to accomodate the artist's designs, effectively terminating the project. Curry refused to sign the finished murals and never returned to his home state in his lifetime, leaving with a parting shot to the press: "I sincerely believe that in the fragments, particularly the panel of John Brown, I have accomplished the greatest paintings I have yet done, and that they will stand as historical monuments". Despite the bravado the experience left him bitter, and his widow insisted that it contributed to his death from a heart attack at 48. For decades the most underrated of the American Regionalists, Curry's stock began to rise again in the 1980s, with his murals in particular being favorably compared to Benton's. In 1992, the Kansas legislature issued a formal apology for its treatment of Curry. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Reformed Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Winchester
Jefferson County
Kansas, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Merle Kaufmann
Record added: Feb 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47557017
John Steuart Curry
Added by: Anthony S
 
John Steuart Curry
Added by: Anonymous
 
John Steuart Curry
Added by: Merle Kaufmann
 
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I sit here in your boyhood home, waiting to share my art with visitors. It's an interesting concept, having my artwork surrounded by your work and family photos. RIP John.
- Julie Blichmann
 Added: Sep. 28, 2013

-Anonymous
 Added: Jun. 29, 2013

- Falling Stars
 Added: Jan. 11, 2013
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