Terence Duren (1907-1968) was a leading Nebraska artist from the post-World War II period. Duren, who lived most of his life in Shelby, is most widely known for his regionalist works, which drew on his rural Nebraska upbringing. He is one of a group of Nebraska artists, including John Falter and Grant Reynard, whose illustrations were a significant portion of their output.
Duren began to paint when he was stricken with polio at age six. To occupy their bedridden son, his parents gave him crayons and a tablet. In an interview shortly before his death, Duren said he realized then that he would be an artist.
Duren graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1929 and studied at the Fontainebleau School of Art in France and the Kunstgewerbe Schule in Vienna. The European schools specialized in mural painting, and in the 1930s Duren was best known as a muralist. Duren served as an instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1930 to 1941 and taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Duren’s career and reputation reached a zenith in 1944 when one of his paintings was chosen for Portrait of America, an exhibition which opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and then toured to eight museums across the country.
Among his other projects, Duren designed sets for an opera company in Cleveland, as well as the sets and costumes for a marionette production of Pyr Gynt at the New York World’s Fair (1939-40). He was later an ardent supporter of the Brownville Historical Society and its effort to restore Brownville.