Born Weatherly, Pennsylvania, 1892; died Tucson, Arizona, 1977
Justin McCarthy was born into a wealthy family near Allentown, Pennsylvania. The death of his father in the early 1900s left the family in financial ruin. McCarthy entered law school at the University of Pennsylvania but suffered a nervous breakdown and spent five years in the State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane in Rittersville, PA, where he began to draw.
After his release, McCarthy worked variously as a farmer, a warehouse employee, a chocolate mixer, and a steelworker, meanwhile creating drawings, watercolors, and paintings. His sources were everyday events and all sorts of popular imagery of the day, with an emphasis on athletes, movie stars, and other famous people. Around 1960 Pennsylvania dealer and collector Dorothy Strauser saw his work at a local art show in Stroudsburg and began collecting and selling it. McCarthy had his first solo exhibition at the Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1965.Learn more about McCarthy and all of the artists in “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection
Image: “Ice Capades,” 1971, by Justin McCarthy (The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection)