Jan Frederick Stussy was a significant artist and teacher in Los Angeles. Born in the Midwest, he came to Southern California as a small child and remained here for his schooling, studying at Long Beach City College, at the Art Center School in Pasadena with BARSE MILLER, and at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he took his bachelor’s degree and studied anatomy with George J. Cox (1884-1946). After serving in the navy, in 1953 Stussy earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, where he was a student of FRANCIS DE ERDELY. Stussy became a close friend of STANTON MACDONALD-WRIGHT, studying privately with him for several years. Stussy’s travels throughout Europe, Mexico, South America, and Japan beginning in the 1950s afforded him further periods of study. In 1950 he was elected vice-president of the California Water Color Society. His teaching career began in 1947 with his appointment to the faculty of UCLA, where he taught until 1989. He also taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Solo exhibitions of his work were held throughout Southern California and the Southwest, and he received many awards, including a grant to work at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1970.
In his imaginative work Stussy symbolically presented various images, including human and animal figures and flowers. Often his subjects are distorted and inside boxes, circles, or other geometric shapes. He best described his own intent: "As a painter I am interested in various aspects of abstraction, allegory, transfiguration, codes, analogies, metaphors, equivocation, and ambiguity as they relate to art."
Archiv. Am. Art, Jan Stussy Papers § University of California, Los Angeles, Art Galleries, and Santiago, Chile, Carmen Waugh Gallery, organized by Chile/California Program, Jan Stussy Paintings, exh. cat., 1967, with essay by Jorge Elliott § LACMA, Research Library, artist’s file, artist’s statement, n.d., and biographical data, c. 1971 § Moure 1975, pp. 24-25, 70, with bibliography § Stussy Drawings (Los Angeles and New York: University of California, Los Angeles, and Technological Investors Management Corp., 1984), with introduction by Robert H. Gray, comments by the artist, biographical note, lists of awards and exhibitions.