Gerard Curtis Delano1890 - 1972
Born: April 14, 1890, Marion, Massachusetts
Gerald Curtis Delano began drawing at an early age. After the encouraging sale of a pen and ink drawing to Life Magazine, he attended evening classes at the Swaine Free School of Design in New Bedford. Delano moved to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League where he studied under George Bridgeman, Edward Dumond, and Edward Dufer. He also attended the Grand Central School of Art, taking classes with prominent illustrators Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell, and N.C. Wyeth. Delano illustrated numerous magazine covers, drew fashions for women’s magazines, and painted subjects for various calendar companies. He also became an animator of movie cartoons. His humorous sketches appeared in many U.S. and European magazines, including Life, Judge, Puck, and Punch. Beginning in 1919, Delano traveled numerous times to the west and, in the mid-twenties, he settled in New York to create illustrations for the covers of Cosmopolitan, Colliers, and Western Stories, as well as a Native American series for the Santa Fe Railway Company. In 1936, he was awarded a two-year contract to create illustrations with accompanying text for The Story of the West, a chronological account of events highlighting the development of the West from the beginning of the nineteenth century. Eventually, Delano left the illustration business to pursue painting. In 1947, Delano traveled to Arizona and visited the Navajo reservation. For the rest of Delano’s career, depictions of Navajo people, red sandstone canyons, and wildlife dominated his paintings.
Some of Delano’s Navajo paintings romanticize the subject while others show the artist’s identification with their values and culture. Unconcerned with detail and accuracy of form, Delano attempted to capture the spirit of the land and people. He purposely simplified his compositions and colors so the viewer could easily understand his message. In the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Indian Village, three wolves lurk outside a distant grouping of teepees. Delano simplified his forms with a limited color palette and wide, thin brushstrokes, which show influences of cubism.