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Philip C. Curtis Portrait

Philip C. Curtis

Also Known as: Phil Curtis, Philip Campbell Curtis, Philip Curtis

Jackson, Michigan 1907

Scottsdale, Arizona 2000

Photo Caption:
Courtesy The Philip C. Curtis Charitable Trust for the Encouragement of Art

Luce Artist Quote

“I treat the canvas as a stage and the people I use belong to an acting company of mine.” The artist, quoted in Philip C. Curtis, An American Original, 1993, video directed by Ken Marsolais, Phoenix Art Museum

Luce Artist Biography

Philip C. Curtis followed in his father’s footsteps and went to law school, but an art class led him to transfer to the School of Fine Arts at Yale University. The Works Progress Administration hired him as a mural supervisor in New York, then sent him to Phoenix, Arizona, to establish the state’s first art center. Curtis thrived on this job, creating traveling exhibitions and art classes that eventually led to the founding of the Phoenix Art Museum. He wanted his images to be puzzling and once, when asked whether people in his painting of an elevator were going up or down, replied, “How the hell should I know? For all I know, they could be stuck.” (Ruben, “Setting the Stage,” American Dreamer: The Art of Philip C. Curtis, 1999)