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John E. Costigan
(1888-1972)


Born in 1888 in Orangeburg, New York, John Costigan was orphaned and raised by his aunt and uncle, the parents of songwriter, George M. Cohan. Mainly self-taught, Costigan studied briefly at the Art Students League and worked as a lithographer of theater posters. From that job he learned the printing processes that he later used in his many etchings. He began making his name in the fine arts in 1920, and throughout the decade, reaped numerous important prizes for his oils, watercolors and prints. Costigan started out painting with the palette-knife; his later work was executed by loading the brush with paint and placing short dabs of color onto the canvas.

He served in the infantry in WWI and supported himself during the Depression with magazine illustration. For about a year during WWII, to remain financially solvent, he worked the night shift as a machine operator in a defense plant while continuing to paint and etch by day.

In the late 1960s, he enjoyed a revival of interest in his fine arts talents when more than 50 pieces were borrowed from museums and private collections to be toured nationally in a Smithsonian-sponsored Costigan retrospective. He died on August 5, 1972 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Member: Associate Member of the National Academy of Design, 1926; National Academy of Design, 1928; American Watercolor Society; New York Watercolor Club; Alliance of American Artists; American Society of Animal Printmakers; National Art Club; Philadelphia Society of Etchers; Society of American Etchers.

Exhibited: Salmagundi Club, 1920 (prize), 1923, (prizes), 1928 (prize), 1933 (prize), 1936 (prize); Art Institute of Chicago, 1922 (prize), 1923 (prize), 1924 (prize), 1927 (medal); National Academy of Design, 1920 (prize), 1925 (medal), 1927 (prizes), 1928 (prize); National Arts Club, 1925 (medal), 1936 (medal); Sequi-Centennial Exposition, 1926 (medal); AWCS, 1928 (prize), 1932 (prize), 1933 (prize), 1936 (prize); Grand Central Art Gallery, 1928 (prize); Palm Beach Art Association (prize); Society of American Etchers, 1933 (prize), 1938 (prize); Corcoran Gallery of Art; Carnegie Institute, 1944-1946; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1944.

Works Held: Art Institute of Chicago; New York Public Library; Brigham Young University; Rochester Memorial Art Gallery; Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Montclair Art Museum; Cranbrook Art Academy; Library of Congress; murals, United States Post Office, Girard, Ohio, Rensselaer, Indiana, Stuart West Virginia, American Artist Series, Scribner's Magazine, March 1937.

Source:
Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1985. Print.
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