An American Painter
Compositional painter of figures and country animals; watercolor painter
Costigan was a largely self-taught artist. He moved from Providence, Rhode Island to New York City as an orphaned teenager in 1904 to work for a commercial poster company. It was here that he learned the rudiments of drawing and painting, skills he furthered with informal study at New York's Kit Kat Club, a popular artists' hangout. Costigan achieved national fame as a painter and printmaker in the1920s and 30s. He won numerous prestigious awards and, despite his lack of formal artistic training, was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design. In 1937 the Smithsonian Institution held a one-person exhibition of his graphic works. Famed American printmaker John Taylor Arms praised Costigan as "a brilliant etcher, particularly noted for his interpretation of life on the American farmstead."
Today prints by Costigan can be found in private and public collections around the nation, including the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, which owns twenty-two. The Swope exhibition is the largest devoted to Costigan's work since the late 1960s. Many of the forty-five prints in the exhibition are from the Swope's own extensive holdings of Costigan's works. Other are being lent by private collectors from around the country.