collections
American

John Steuart Curry

U.S. 1897-1946
Self Portrait 79.0051

In this self-portrait, Curry, dressed in clothing suitable to the western prairie, surrounds himself with iconic images from Kansas-the jackrabbit, the shocks of wheat, the treeless horizon line, and the lonely homestead. Curry's earliest ambition was to be an artist. He left Kansas to study first in Kansas City (MO), then Chicago, and then Paris. He largely rejected modernist abstraction and returned to the U.S. convinced that he needed to paint the subjects he knew best-the Midwest, Kansas farm country, its dramatic climate, and heroic images of Kansas's history. Called by some a prodigal son, because of his move to New York and then to Westport, Connecticut, Curry continued throughout his life to undertake mural projects, paintings and prints that reflected his love of Midwestern types, scenes, and landscapes. From his first major canvas, Baptism in Kansas, in 1928 to his Federal Arts Project murals, his artist-in-residency at the University of Wisconsin, and later his controversial Kansas Statehouse mural project, Curry demonstrated his attachment to a uniquely American perspective.

 

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