Philip C. Curtis, The Circus or the Wild Beast, 1960. Oil on Masonite.
Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Bequest of Iris S. Darlington.
Born and raised in Michigan, Philip C. Curtis first visited Phoenix in 1936, when he was sent by the Federal Arts Project to establish Arizona's first art center (which later became the Phoenix Art Museum). In 1947 he returned to the state and set up a permanent home and studio in Scottsdale, where he remained until the end of his life.
For Curtis, the Arizona desert became the stage for an imaginary theater portrayed in his paintings. Influenced by fond memories of turn-of-the-century Michigan, he dressed his players in Victorian clothing and employed a figurative style based on Surrealist fantasy to create open-ended narratives about human life and relationships.
You can explore and enjoy the legacy of this intriguing and sought after Arizona artist in Philip C. Curtis: The New Deal and American Regionalism, on view in Orme Lewis Gallery through May 2018.
Header images (from left to right): 1. Philip C. Curtis, Arrangement of People and Things, 1946. Tempera on board. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of the Philip C. Curtis Restated Trust U/A/D April 7, 1994. 2. Philip C. Curtis, Gift Bearers, 1971. Oil on board. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of the Philip C. Curtis Restated Trust U/A/D April 7, 1994. 3. Philip C. Curtis, The Showcase, 1963. Oil on panel. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Lucile J. Roca.