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 Frank C. McCarthy  (1924 - 2002)

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Lived/Active: New York/Arizona      Known for: frontier-horse genre, illustrations

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  AskART Artist  
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Western painter and illustrator known for depictions of plains Indians in action, Frank McCarthy spent much of his career in New York City and the last years in Arizona. He was born in New York City and for twenty-one years was as an illustrator for major magazines including "Colliers," "Argosy" and "True" and for paperback book publishers.

He studied at Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York and then followed a course of commercial art. Many of his illustrations were large western paintings, something that continued to earn him a reputation as a top-selling artist. His work was also reproduced and distributed by The Greenwich Workshop.

In 1973, he had his first major exhibition of his paintings, a show of twenty-three canvases, at the Husburg Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it sold out in twenty minutes. This success caused him to make a total commitment to fine art, and he moved from New York to Arizona.

A popular motif of his has been high-speed action, especially stampeding buffalo. In 1975, he was elected a member of the Cowboy Artists of America, and in 1998, he resigned from the organization. In 1997, he was indicted into the "Illustrators Hall of Fame." He is also a member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group and has exhibited at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Western Heritage Center and had a retrospective at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Sources include:
Walt Reed, "The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000"
Exhibition Catalogs, Cowboy Artists of America

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
It is a curious fact that artists who were not native to the West have created much of the best western art. Remington came from New York and traveled west for the first time as a grown man before becoming one of the most important of all western artists. In the same manner, Frank McCarthy has lived in New York and Connecticut for fifty years, and yet he also has become one of the most widely respected talents in contemporary western art. The dramatic contrast of familiar urban congestion to the freshness of open plains and skies is an invigorating experience, which fires an artist with strong inspiration.

McCarthy already possessed a fully developed talent when he trained his artistic instincts on the subject of the West. He had studied at both the Art Students League and The Pratt Institute in the formal tradition of many of America’s leading painters. And in that same tradition, he followed a career of professional illustration. The West crept into McCarthy’s consciousness over twenty-five years of commercial work. During the 1950’s, he produced cover art for western novels and it gradually became his specialty. As he researched his western subjects, he developed a genuine interest in the history of the West that went beyond the requirements of his work. McCarthy began to paint western subjects apart from his commercial assignments and found an outlet for his paintings in both New York and southwestern galleries. It was much more satisfying to have the freedom to use his own ideas, and in 1974 he left the East for Sedona, Arizona, and a full time career in western art.

ReSources include: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, Dr. Rick Stewart,Hawthorne Publishing Company, 1986

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Frank McCarthy is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Western Painters

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