"Portrait of Stanley Young"
by John Steuart Curry, dated 1932
JOHN STEUART CURRY, N. A.
(American, 1897 - 1946)
Oil on canvas, 32 x 30 inches (canvas) 38 ½ x 36 ½ inches (frame), signed, dated 1932 and titled lower right.
John Steuart Curry, a leader of the American Regionalist movement, was born on a farm near Dunavant, Kansas on 14 November 1897. He paid his way through art school working first as a railroad section hand in Kansas City and then as a menial laborer in Chicago. In 1919, after playing football and studying for a year at Geneva College, he moved to New York City to study illustration with Harvey Dunn. During the early 1920s Curry struggled to make a living as an artist and consequently welcomed the opportunity to study in Europe. With a patron financing the trip, Curry moved to Paris in 1926 and spent the next year studying at Schoukhaieff's Russian Academy. At this time, the burgeoning expressionist and abstract movements influenced many artists; Curry, however, differed from his contemporaries and was more interested with the work of Gustave Courbet and Peter Paul Rubens. After his return from Paris he settled in Westport, CT. He always said that an artist should paint what he knows best. Following hisown advice, he turned his interest inward and began drawing subject matter from his youth. His 1928 painting 'Baptism in Kansas,' painted entirely from memory, received critical acclaim and earned Curry recognition from the New York art world. Embracing the Midwest values of his youth, he incorporated these into his work and juxtaposed them against rural landscapes and storm scenes. Art historian Matthew Baigell stated, "To Curry, man's actions on the land, his contest with nature for dominance, was the basic American experience. Curry, recognized the capacities of both - nature's ability to devastate the land and man's ability to bring great riches from the soil." Within these scenes of man's interactions with nature and much of Curry's other works there is an underlying religious theme combined with a yearn for nostalgia, "a nostalgia for his own youth as well as for the old and simple distinctions between right and wrong." Curry also enjoyed teaching. After traveling with the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1932, he taught for four years at the Art Students League and Cooper Union. In1936 he returned to the Midwest and settled at the University of Wisconsin where he was artist-in-residence until his unexpected death in 1946.
Comprehensive biographical information about the artist available upon request
Background information relative to Stanley Young