Rockwell Kent, This is My Own - New York State Museum.
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Kent working on printing block, 1931
Kent working on printing block, 1931

    At the urging of a young admirer named Carl Zigrosser, who would become an authority on printmaking, Kent began to pursue the art of wood engraving, a passion that would rival his great love for oil painting.

    Kent’s engravings began as rough, reverse images he drew and then traced onto blocks of maple. He would then cut all of the fine detail into the wood.

“Engraving, in my hands, became wonderfully consistent with the eccentricities of my own nature: with my inability to distinguish what are termed the ‘finer shades’; my preference for fair over foggy days; for clean sharp lines; for clear perception versus mystical imaginings; for stark, uncompromising realism versus unreality. You’ve got to know your mind to work with steel on wood.”

    Kent was equally adept at lithographs. Printmaking, he felt, was a “democratic art.” In 1927, in his introduction to Fifty Prints, he wrote:

While the low cost of prints puts them within reach of everyone, it should be realized that all prints, as the term is used in art, are “originals” in the same precious sense as a unique painting or drawing; and by the variety of their processes they offer the artist adequate means for the expression of his thought.

    Kent used lithography as his primary artistic means for expressing his political views, and for documenting many of his experiences in Greenland.

    Wood engraving was reserved largely for his symbolic representations of man coming to grips with his earthbound destiny. These striking black and white images were often interpreted as “mystical,” a term that caused Kent some concern. In his second autobiography, It’s Me O Lord, he wrote:

I believe in Man as the supreme consciousness; and in the arts as the supreme expression of his spirit...Symbolism is quite different from mysticism.
Kent and Carl Zigrosser, c.1935
Kent and Carl Zigrosser, c.1935
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Thumbnail ImageWashington Press, R. Hoe & Co., New York: Kent's Hand Press, c.1900
steel
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.5.212]
Thumbnail ImageLone Cabin (Old Barn), 1926
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.37]
Thumbnail ImagePrecipice, 1927
wood engraving
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.41]
Thumbnail ImageFlower, Sun, and Waterfall, 1927
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.13]
Thumbnail ImageFlower, Sun, and Waterfall, c.1927
wood engraving
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.69]
Thumbnail ImagePinnacle, 1928
lithograph
Gifted in Memory of Armand Singer
[P122007.3.3]
Thumbnail ImageThe Tree, 1928
lithograph
Museum Purchase, Sally Kent Gorton Endowment
[P102007.1]
Thumbnail ImageGirl on Cliff (The Abyss), 1930
wood engraving
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P102007.2]
Thumbnail ImageStarlight, 1930
wood engraving
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.51]
Thumbnail ImageNorthern Night, 1930
wood engraving
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.72]
Thumbnail ImageUnknown, c.1930
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.6]
Thumbnail ImageGodspeed, 1931
wood engraving
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.21]
Thumbnail ImageSermilik Fjord, 1931
lithograph in three colors from stone and zinc plates
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.5]
Thumbnail ImageSea and Sky, 1931
wood engraving
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.54]
Thumbnail ImageOarsman, 1931
wood engraving
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.42]
Thumbnail ImageThe Far Horizon, 1932
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.18]
Thumbnail ImageDrifter, 1933
wood engraving
Gifted in Memory of Armand Singer
[P122007.3.2]
Thumbnail ImageBig Baby, 1933
wood engraving
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.43]
Thumbnail ImageGreenland Hunter, 1933
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.2.1]
Thumbnail ImageGreenland Courtship, 1934
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.7]
Thumbnail ImageDas Ding An Sich - It's Me O Lord, 1934
lithograph
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.69]
Thumbnail ImageAnd Now Where, 1936
lithograph
Museum Purchase, Sally Kent Gorton Endowment
[P112007.4]
Thumbnail ImageDirty Deborah, 1937
lithograph
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.2.32]
Thumbnail ImageEnd of the World Series: Degravitation, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.56]
Thumbnail ImageEnd of the World Series: Lunar Disintegration, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.51]
Thumbnail ImageEnd of the World Series: Solar Flare-Up, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.27.2]
Thumbnail ImageEnd of the World: Solar Fade Out, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.65]
Thumbnail ImageAnd Women Must Weep, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.71]
Thumbnail ImageEskimo Mother and Child, 1937
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.9.66]
Thumbnail ImageIt's Later Than You Think or Wake Up America, 1945
lithograph
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1984.2.1]
Thumbnail ImageIt's Later Than You Think or Wake Up America, 1945
pencil
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.3.171]
Thumbnail ImageIt's Later Than You Think or Wake Up America, 1945
lithograph stone
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.5.213]
Thumbnail ImageGood-Bye Day or The Water Carrier, 1946
lithograph
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.157]
Thumbnail ImageUnknown, n.d.
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.3]
Thumbnail ImageFirst Design for Waterfall, n.d.
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.2]
Thumbnail ImageChild with Bow and Arrow, n.d.
woodblock
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.133.1]
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