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Philip C. Curtis

May 26, 1907 - November 11, 2000


Philip Campbell Curtis is often called a painter of Magical Realism, an American Surrealist, or even called \”Magritte of the Old West.\” He was born in Michigan where a childhood accident left him with debilitating arthritis for the rest of his life. At Albion College he took a class in the newly formed art department, and then went to the University of Michigan to pursue a law degree, as his father and grandfather had done.

He soon decided that art, not law, was his passion. In 1932 he enrolled at Yale School of Fine Arts where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in three years. His unique artistic style was heavily influenced by his love of the circus and fantasy, allowing him to create a magical and delightful world for his audience. America was in the depths of the Depression when he was hired by the Works Progress Administration as Assistant Supervisor of Mural Paintings in New York City. He then was sent to Arizona to establish the Phoenix Art Center which later became the Phoenix Art Museum. In 1939 he was sent to Des Moines, Iowa to assist in starting the Des Moines Arts Center also under the WPA Federal Arts Project. He and his wife Marjorie Yaeger Curtis moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1947 where he would live the rest of his life. Curtis, who was also an arts advocate, is one of Arizona’s most historically significant artists.

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