|Rockwell Kent (American, 1882 – 1971) • The Angel, Christmas Card, 1928|
|Rockwell Kent, View at Asgaard , 1945|
|Illustration by Rockwell Kent for Herman Melville's Moby Dick|
|Rockwell Kent, Moonlight in the Adirandacks, date unknown|
|Rockwell Kent, Dan Ward's Stack, Ireland|
|Rockwell Kent, The View from Asgaard|
Rockwell Kent's paintings feel uplifting to me, like time spent walking on the beach, looking out at the sea and the sky. They're boldly contemplative, a clean but also sophisticated, intelligent simplicity to them. There is something austere about them too, a spiritual starkness.
His prints have an art deco edge. His snowy mountain paintings remind me of Nicholas Roerich. Something about the boldness of his landscapes remind me a bit of Thomas Hart Benton.
After a lifetime traveling the world, surviving World War II, his political interests leaned toward socialist ideas. He became targeted and scapegoated by that monster, Senator Joseph McCarthy, in the 1950s. That destroyed not only his career, his livelihood, but estranged him from neighbors he cared about and had spent much time with in Maine, where he'd built his home.
In 1947 Kent’s mother died at the age of 91, leaving each of her children $30,000. Kent invested most of his inheritance in hopes of building a hedge against his plummeting income.
With the rest, the artist returned with his wife, Sally, to Monhegan Island, Maine, the scene of his earliest triumphs and transgressions.
He reacquired the little cottage he had built back in 1907. By visiting in the fall and early spring, when the tourists were gone, Monhegan seemed little changed:
|“My body has grown old. I walk now where I used to run; step carefully where once I’d leap. But still, my eyes are good. And seeing, must I not respond to nature’s beauty? I began to paint again, with undiminished love for the familiar scenes.”|
“I lug my canvasses across the gullies, up the headlands. I relive my youth. Or better I am young again.”
But fallout from Kent’s clash with U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was immediate. Kent’s politics were never a secret to the islanders, but now the symptoms were instantly apparent: avoidance on the footpaths, hurried departures from the general store whenever the Kents came in. Unable to find sanctuary even on Monhegan, Kent and Sally soon left, never to return.
The Adirondack Mountains that cradle Asgaard still inspired the aging artist, but his paintings were accumulating in his studio, most unseen by anyone except Sally.
In 1960 Kent arranged to give eighty canvases and eight hundred drawings and prints, work that covered every phase of his career, to the Soviet Union, “the one people in the world who have demonstrated their high regard for what I do.”
About Rockwell Kent.
Rockwell Kent was an American painter and illustrator born in 1882 in Tarrytown, New York. He was a highly prolific print maker. Kent painted landscapes of New York, Alaska, Vermont, and Minnesota. He was also an author of a number of books, which he illustrated.
He was most renowned for his illustrations for Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
He was commissioned by the United States government to paint murals on new buildings. Sometimes he would sneak in his own comments and ideas on their work in tiny letters or in Inuit syllables writing.
Kent illustrated several magazines and had many cover issues to his credit.
For his artistic education Kent studied at the Art Students League of New York City and also with private classes at ateliers. Some instructors include William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri.
> Rockwell Kent became increasingly radical and outspoken during World War II. After the war he advocated friendship and peace with the Soviet Union. U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy targeted him during the red-baiting era, and his reputation suffered. Once one of the most famous, well-paid artists of his day, he was no longer in demand as an artist or illustrator.A snippet of a documentary about him.
An Antiques Roadshow snippet about a woman who owns a Rockwell Kent painting, Greenland, Land of Peace, 1946
A woman he knew died an accidental death, while staying at his house in Maine. The gossip surrounding this death was part of the reason Rockwell Kent and his wife sold their house in Maine.
|Rockwell Kent, in honor of the Spanish Civil War|
|Rockwell Kent, Charlotte|
|Rockwell Kent, The Seven Ages of Man. Embrace 1918|
|Seven Ages of Man|
|William Shakespeare (1564–1616)|
|Rockwell Kent and wife Frances, Greenland, circa 1930|
|Rockwell and Frances Kent in Greenland, ca. 1930 / unidentified photographer. Rockwell Kent papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.|
Some wonderful photographs of Rockwell Kent's life here, at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, NY
101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Rockwell Kent: Still Photos of an Active Man
As well as a collection of several dozen paintings.
|Kent gave Asgaard Dairy to two loyal farmhands (left)|
after Kent’s political views created a regional boycott, 1948
|Rockwell Kent playing his father's silver flute, c. late 1940's|
|Rockwell Kent at home, playing piano with a silly glasses and nose mask.|
|Rockwell Kent, Resurrection Bay, Alaska, 1965|
|Rockwell Kent, Greenlanders, 1932|
|Rockwell Kent, Cloudy Day. Fjord in Northern Greenland|
|Rockwell Kent, May, North Greenland, 1935 -1937|
|Rockwell Kent, Whiteface Sunset|
|Rockwell Kent, Asgaard Jerseys, 1965|
|Rockwell Kent, The Trapper, 1921|
|Rockwell Kent, America Land of Our Fathers, 1956-59|
|Rockwell Kent, Landscape, 1933|
|Rockwell Kent, Alpes|
|Rockwell Kent, Sun, Tomorrow, Monhegan, 1907|
|Rockwell Kent, Asgaard's Meadow|
|Rockwell Kent, Moonlight Sleigh Ride, December 1st, 1943|
|Rockwell Kent, Sturrall. Donegal. Ireland, 1926/1927|
|Rockwell Kent, Voyagers, Alaska, 1919-23|