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The Message

1978 Philip C. Curtis Born: Jackson, Michigan 1907 Died: Scottsdale, Arizona 2000 oil on gesso board 25 3/4 x 8 in. (65.4 x 20.3 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of the artist 2001.51.2 Not currently on view

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Philip C. Curtis sometimes incorporated written words in his paintings to suggest a story beyond the picture frame. In The Message the simple sign invites us to wonder who will be back in one hour, when the hour began, and where they have gone. The brick-patterned frame makes us feel part of the image, as if the painting itself is a doorway to another world. To step through would lead to a corridor of doors, eventually to a window and blue sky beyond. That distant window suggests that “back in one hour” might never happen.


Architecture Exterior - detail - door

Architecture Exterior - detail - window

Object - other - sign