Storm Over Stone City

Catalog Number 998.05 - Dated: 1933

Artist John Steuart Curry

Process

Storm Over Stone City is a lithographic print. Lithographs are drawn in the same way that artists draw other images, and the resulting print creates a picture that is a mirror-image (reversal) of the artist’s original image. Lithograph literally means drawn on stone, and the process of making this type of print reveals this is exactly true: after the artist has made a drawing on the lithographic “stone,” the image is treated to protect it and it is chemically treated. This process changes the surface of the stone so the image—now almost invisible—will accept the greasy printing ink, and the blank areas—when washed off with water—will reject the ink. This wiping away process leaves only ink in the areas where the artist’s drawing is, allowing it to transfer to the paper when the stone is run through a printing press.

Donor

Purchased with funds from the Alan Fredregill Fund

Historical Context

Stone City was an art colony started in the summer of 1932 by Grant Wood, Ed Rowan and Adrian Dornbush, and Curry was a resident artist/instructor there in 1933. It was meant to be an alternative for Midwestern artists to distant art colonies such as Woodstock in New York, or Santa Fe in New Mexico. It offered painting classes that promoted Regionalism and encouraged all its students to work from life in a realist style rather than to paint abstractions.

The art colony only lasted two summers, 1932 and 1933, and was always plagued by financial difficulties. John Steuart Curry visited Wood in July 1933 and posed with him for a series of publicity photographs that appeared in Time magazine later that year. His print, Storm Over Stone City presents a scenic view of the local landscape with cows and trees, while in the distance a storm gathers and lightning flashes. This combination of placid cows and threatening thunderstorm may be a comment on uncertain future of the colony; 1933 was its final summer and it was already suffering financial hardships even before opening for the year. When it did close that fall, its assets were sold off it pay its debts. Even though Wood and the other faculty taught there free of charge, the colony had never become financially self-sustaining.

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