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A native of Massachusetts, Howard Cook studied at the Art Students League in New York. He became an illustrator for publications including Atlantic Monthly, Scribners, Forum, and Harpers magazines and traveled worldwide on assignment. He first visited Taos, New Mexico, for Forum magazine in 1926 to illustrate the serial publication of "Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop." He made New Mexico his home in 1935.
Cook received two Guggenheim Fellowships to study mural painting in Mexico and later to collect subject material throughout the southern United States for federal building murals. He received a gold medal for his murals from the Architectural League of New York in 1937. During World War II he was an artist-correspondent in the South Pacific; the work done for this assignment was later exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the National Academy of Design.
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