Curry - Rainbow and View of Madison, Wisconsin


Rainbow and View of Madison, Wisconsin

Painted at the pinnacle of John Steuart Curry’s career, “Rainbow and View of Madison, Wisconsin,” is a magnificent allegory of Regionalist and American ideals. Although the rainstorms showering the city and state capitol foreshadow potential problems, the rainbow, rich fields and healthy livestock signify Curry’s hopes for the nation’s future.

Curry felt the remedy for problems of the Great Depression would result from a strong agrarian culture. In 1936, Curry became the University of Wisconsin’s and one of America’s first “artist in residence.” He was attracted to Wisconsin’s mission and dedication to the principles of Progressivism, as well as the pioneering work of Chris L. Christensen, the university's dean of the College of Architecture. The boundaries of the university were the boundaries of the state. Being a great friend of Wisconsin’s progressivist governor, Philip La Follette Sr., Curry championed the party’s support of women’s suffrage, labor and education reform, and government accountability.

Thomas Hart Benton has said, “Together we stood for things which most artists do not much believe in. We stood for an art whose forms and meanings would have direct and easily comprehended relevance to the American culture of which we were by blood and daily life apart.”

 “Rainbow and View of Madison, Wisconsin,” became the visual summation of Curry’s life work. The rainbow spans the city, the state capitol, and the country. This image crystallizes Curry’s hope that urban and rural societies would co-exist in harmony with responsible, honest government after the Depression.