Along with Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry attained significant fame as one of the three most important Regionalist painters of the 1930s. In 1941 Wood wrote about Curry: “It was action he loved most to interpret: the lunge through space, the split second before the kill, the suspended moment before the storm strikes.” Hogs Killing a Snake reveals his fascination with the violence of nature and the struggle for survival. Curry deliberately constructed the dynamic composition to heighten the vitality of his subject; the hogs converge from all angles upon the writhing snake, giving a sense of violent motion. Curry accentuated the vigor of the composition with his painting technique, using short, choppy brushstrokes and even scratching on the surface of the paint to suggest the bristling hair on the hogs’ backs. Although the subject was ostensibly drawn from a childhood experience, the painting transcends mere realism to become nearly epic.
Purchased with funds provided by an anonymous donor
Extended information about this artwork
Forbes Watson, The Star Spangled Banner, The Arts 18, 1 (October 1931), ill. p. 54.
“John Steuart Curry; John Butler; Ferargil Galleries,” Art News 30, 3 (October 17, 1931), 10.
Laurence E. Schmeckebier, John Steuart Curry’s Pageant of America (American Artists Group, 1943), 30, 195, 347, fig. 161, 196.
Life, 1943, 371.
James Thrall Soby and Dorothy C. Miller, Romantic Painting in America, exh. cat. (Museum of Modern Art, 1943), 45–46, cat. 66, ill. p. 119.
American Artists Group Monograph no 14, John Steuart Curry, 1945, 2.
“John Steuart Curry: 1897–1946,” Bulletin from Associated American Artists 36 (September 1946), n.p.
Alexander Eliot, Three Hundred Years of American Painting (Time Incorporated, 1957), 217, ill. p. 215.
John I. H. Baur, Revolution and Tradition in Modern American Art (Harvard University Press, 1951), 90–91, pl. 143.
John Steuart Curry: A Retrospective Exhibition of his work held in the Kansas State Capitol, Topeka, October 3–November 3, 1970, reprinted from Kansas Quarterly (University Press of Kansas, 1970), 10, 44.
Lawrence Alloway, “The Recovery of Regionalism: John Steuart Curry,” Art in America, 64, 4 (July–August 1976), 71, ill. p. 70.
Patricia Junker, John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West (Hudson Hills Press in association with the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1998), 116, 124, 222, 227, pl. 21.
James M. Dennis, Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 16–17, fig. 5.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 78.
New York, Ferargil Galleries, John Steuart Curry: Recent Paintings, Oct. 12–25, 1931, no cat.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 128th Annual Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Jan. 29–Mar. 19, 1933, cat. 308, as Hogs Killing a Snake.
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings by Artists of the United States, 1934–35, cat. 26, ill.
Walker Galleries, New York, Opening Exhibition: Paintings by Six Americans, Nov. 12–28, 1935, cat. 9.
San Francisco, Ca., Golden Gate International Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Contemporary Art,
[Feb. 19–Oct. 29], 1939, cat. United States 94, ill. p. 51.
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, An Exhibition of Contemporary Painting in the United States, Selected from the Department of Fine Arts, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939, Jan. 1940, cat. 17; Toronto, Art Gallery of Toronto, Feb. 1940, Montreal, Art Association of Montreal, Mar. 1940.
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Department of Fine Arts, Survey of American Painting, Oct. 24–Dec. 15, 1940, cat. 304, ill., as Hogs Killing a Rattlesnake.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Romantic Painting in America, Nov. 17, 1943–Feb. 6, 1944, cat. 66, ill.
Milwaukee Art Institute, Art of John Steuart Curry, Sept. 5–Oct. 15, 1946, cat. 19.
New York, Associated American Artists, John Steuart Curry: Twenty Years of His Art, Mar. 24–Apr. 12, 1947, cat. 6, as Hogs Killing a Rattlesnake.
Des Moines Art Center, Jan. 30–Feb. 26, 1950.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The 75th Anniversary Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by 75 Artists associated with the Art Students League of New York, [Mar. 15–May 31], 1951, cat. 68, ill.
Bloomington–Normal Art Association, Nov. 2–23, 1952.
Minneapolis, University of Minnesota University Gallery, 20th Century American Painting, June 15–Sept. 15, 1953; St. Paul, Minn., St. Paul Gallery & School of Art, Sept. 27–Nov. 1, 1953.
Des Moines Art Center, Communicating Art from Midwest Collections: American and European Paintings and Sculpture 1835–1955, Oct. 13–Nov. 6, 1955, cat. 22, ill.
New York, American Federation of Art, European Circuit: American Painting of this Century, May 1–Aug. 13, 1956. [Did not travel in Europe.]
New York, Syracuse University, Joe and Emily Lowe Art Center, A Retrospective Exhibition of Work by John Steuart Curry, Oct. 7–Nov. 2, 1956, unnumbered cat., dated 1931.
Lawrence, University of Kansas Museum of Art, John Steuart Curry 1897–1946, Apr. 13–May 24, 1957, cat. 11, ill.
Lake Forest, Ill., Lake Forest College, Durand Art Institute, A Century of American Painting: Masterpieces Loaned by The Art Institute of Chicago, June 10–16, 1957, cat. 23, as Hogs Killing a Rattlesnake.
Wisconsin, Madison Art Center, John Steuart Curry: An Exhibition, Jan. 19–Feb. 23, 1969, cat. 20.
Topeka, University of Kansas Museum of Art, John Steuart Curry: A Retrospective Exhibition of his work held in the Kansas State Capitol, Topeka, Oct. 3–Nov. 3, 1970, cat. 10, ill. p. 64.
Texas, Tyler Museum of Art, American Painting 1900 to Present, Mar. 21–Apr. 28, 1971, unnumbered cat., ill.
Neenah, Wisconsin, Bergstrom Art Center, John Steuart Curry, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, Mar. 29–Apr. 23, 1972.
Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Artists 100 Years: Alumni of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Centennial Exhibition, Nov. 23, 1979–Jan. 20, 1980, cat. 29.
Madison, Wisconsin, Elvehjem Museum of Art, John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West, Mar. 7–May 17, 1998, pl. 21; San Francisco, Ca., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, de Young Museum, June 1–Aug. 30, 1998; Kansas City, Mo., Nelson–Atkins Museum of Art, Oct. 11, 1998–Jan. 3, 1999.
Art Institute of Chicago, America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, June 5–Sept. 18, 2016; Paris, Musee de l’Orangerie, Oct. 15, 2016–Jan. 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, Feb. 25–June 4, 2017, cat. 10.
The artist; to Associated American Artists; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947.
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