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Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture records, 1945-2013

Historical Note

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (est. 1946) is an art school and artist residency in Skowhegan, Maine. Since the school's beginnings, it has attracted prominent visiting artists and faculty members such as Jacob Lawrence, Philip Pearlstein, Ben Shahn, Isabel Bishop, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi.
The school was founded by Willard W. Cummings, Henry Varnum Poor, Sidney Simon, and Charles Cutler. While serving in Europe during World War II on The War Art Unit project, a project that sent artists to battle zones in order to record their impressions, they noticed that the European system of studying art allowed students intimate access to artists, their studios, and creative life. The Skowhegan School founders wanted to create a similar intimacy between students and artists in the U.S. After returning to the U.S., Cummings, Poor, Simon, and Cutler built an art program that included visiting artists and an artist lecture series that enabled students to interact with professional, well-established artists. In 1960, the school's administration was reorganized due to a fire that burned down the barn, which served as a fresco painting studio, and other nearby buildings. The reorganization introduced trustees and other facets of the administration that were needed to sustain the school's funding and operations.