John Steuart Curry's Hoover and the Flood: Painting Modern History

Overview

In 1940, John Steuart Curry painted a scene of Herbert Hoover directing relief efforts after the Mississippi River flood of 1927 as part of a series of paintings depicting modern American history commissioned by Life magazine. In this in-depth case study, Charles Eldredge examines the story of the artist and his painting as well as the American cultural and political era in which it was made.

Eldredge asks several provocative questions. Why did Curry, an artist associated with ...

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Overview

In 1940, John Steuart Curry painted a scene of Herbert Hoover directing relief efforts after the Mississippi River flood of 1927 as part of a series of paintings depicting modern American history commissioned by Life magazine. In this in-depth case study, Charles Eldredge examines the story of the artist and his painting as well as the American cultural and political era in which it was made.

Eldredge asks several provocative questions. Why did Curry, an artist associated with his native Kansas, choose to depict a subject from the Mississippi Delta? As a painter of nineteenth-century or contemporary agrarian scenes, what prompted Curry to select a specific historical event rather than a more generalized statement of American life? Who was the presumed audience, and what role did it have in the painting's creation? Because of its position in the artist's career, its role in a notable publishing venture, and its appearance at a crucial political moment, Hoover and the Flood provides a revealing look at American art and culture--both political and journalistic--of 1940.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Evenhanded and inclusive . . . an important exploration of the complex social consciousness motivating Regionalist artists."--Great Plains Quarterly
From the Publisher
"Represents a real advance in Curry studies and serves as a model of the best in art-historical scholarship. . . . Perhaps [Eldregde's] best book. . . . Highly recommended."
CHOICE

No other scholar has deeply explored this historically rich work, one that helps us reflect upon our own era's national tragedy in Katrina-torn New Orleans.

-Wanda M. Corn, Stanford University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807830871
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles C. Eldredge is Hall Distinguished Professor of American Art and Culture at the University of Kansas. He is former director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas. He is author of numerous books, including Tales from the Easel: American Narrative Paintings.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Kevin Grogan
Preface
Acknowledgments
John Steuart Curry's Hoover and the Flood

Art and Life
Curry and Traditions
Artists and Floods
A Watery Heartland
The Flood of 1937
Curry and Floods
Hoover and the Flood
Rehabilitation and Restoration
Notes
Index
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