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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: June 19, 2004
Latest Update: June 19, 2004
I came across this painting by Charles C. Curran, when browsing the "Seeing People" online exhibit of the National Academy of Design. Curran was a teacher at the academy school. He taught Raphael Soyer, whose later paintings remind me of the Ashcan School, and make me wonder if that school doesn't best fit American life as it has developed over the decades of the 20th Century.
This is an example of the artist zeroing in on a detail, a small detail of American life in 1888-89, and capturing a feeling of what the New York world must have been like then. It's a realist painting. Cameras hadn't yet come into their own. But it also speaks of the eye of the artist, who saw so much where many of us would have just seen the ordinary that dominant discourse alerted us to.
i knew they painted from plaster casts of the figure. I knew gentlemen wore suits in art classes. I knew the times were more formal then. But the bowler hat! Can any of us imagine painting in a bowler hat. I've got to try it. jeanne
William James Whittemore (1860-1955), Charles C. Curran, 1888-89, oil on canvas, 17 x 21 inches, National Academy of Design
From the Seeing People exhibit at the UBS Museum in NY