John Steuart Curry was an American painter whose career spanned the years from 1924 until his death. He was noted for his paintings depicting rural life in his home state, Kansas, as well as the social attitudes of the times. His subjects were often taken from American history and his most famous mural, The Tragic Prelude (1938–40), is in Topeka at the Kansas State Capitol.
Along with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, he was hailed as one of the three great painters of American Regionalism of the first half of the twentieth century. Curry's artistic production was varied, including paintings, book illustrations, prints, and posters.
Curry's works were painted with movement, which was conveyed by the free brush work and energized forms that characterized his style. His control over brushstrokes created excited emotions such as fear and despair in his paintings. His fellow Regionalists, who also painted action and movement, influenced Curry's style. Though Curry was Kansas's best known painter, his works were not popular with Kansans. Curry's paintings often depicted farm life and animals, tornadoes, prairie fires, dust storms, plagues, and the violent Bleeding Kansas period - all of which were subjects that Kansans felt were at odds with what Kansas represented and did not depict that nostalgia of rural Kansan life.
Curry taught at Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture (New York City) and at the Art Students League of New York until 1936 and was artist in residence at the University of Wisconsin until his death.