John Steuart Curry


John Steuart Curry (November 14, 1897 – August 29, 1946) was an American painter whose career spanned the years from 1924 until his death. He was noted for his paintings depicting rural 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. Curry's artistic production was varied, including paintings, book illustrations, prints, and posters.

Curry was Kansas's best-known painter, but his works were not popular with Kansans, who felt that he did not portray the state positively. Curry's paintings often depicted farm life and animals, tornadoes, prairie fires, and the violent Bleeding Kansas period (featuring abolitionist John Brown, who at the time was derided as a fanatical traitor) – subjects that Kansans did not want to be representative of the state. Curry was commissioned to create murals for the Kansas State Capitol, and he completed two: Kansas Pastoral, and his most famous and controversial work, Tragic Prelude, which he considered his greatest. Reaction was so negative that the Kansas Legislature passed a measure to keep them, or future works of his, from being hung on the capitol walls. As a result, Curry did not sign the works, which were not hung during his lifetime. He left Topeka in disgust; his planned eight smaller murals for the Capitol rotunda on the first floor never went beyond sketches, now held by the Kansas Museum of History.

Curry's works were painted with movement, which was conveyed by the free brush work and energized forms that characterized his style. His control over brushstrokes created excited emotions such as fear and despair in his paintings. His fellow Regionalists, who also painted action and movement, influenced Curry's style.

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Along with Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, Curry was considered one of the main proponents of Regionalism, which favored American indigenous themes and subjects. Curry, after studying in Chicago and Paris, began depicting rural life in Kansas, in both painting and murals. He was artist-in-residence from 1936-1946 at the University of Wisconsin. In 1937, he received a hostile reception after he was commissioned to paint murals for the Kansas State Capitol building. The project was never finished. American Regionalist painter, Kansas. Comment on works: Landscapes

Country of birth

United States


Artist, illustrator, muralist, painter

ULAN identifier



John Steuart Curry, Curry, John Stewart Curry, John-Stuart Curry, John Stuart Curry

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed May 15, 2024.