Rockwell Kent: Still Photos of an Active Man
Plattsburgh State Art Museum
1882born, Tarrytown, New York
1887death of Rockwell Kent, Sr.
1894-1896attended Cheshire Academy
1895toured Europe with Aunt Jo
1896attended Horace Mann School, New York City
1900-1902studied architecture at Columbia University
1900-1902attended William Merritt Chase's summer school, Shinnecock Hills, Long Island
1903studied with William Merritt Chase, New York City
1904first sale of a painting
1904met Rufus Weeks and attended first Socialist meeting
1905lived and worked with Abbott H. Thayer, Dublin, New Hampshire
1905first painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine
1907first one-man show, Claussen Galleries, New York City
1908marriage to Kathleen Whiting
1908studied with Robert Henri
1908joined Socialist Party
1909birth of Rockwell, III
1910ran Monhegan Summer School of Art
1910first trip to Newfoundland
1910helped to organize first Independent Exhibition
1911birth of Kathleen
1912moved to Winona, Minnesota
1913birth of Clara
1914settled in Newfoundland
1915deported from Newfoundland
1915birth of Barbara
1917served as full-time organizer and administrator of Independent Exhibition
1918-1919in Alaska with son Rocky
1919purchased Egypt Farm, Arlington, Vermont
1919incorporated self
1920publication of Wilderness
1920birth of Gordon
1922traveled to Tierra del Fuego
1924publication of Voyaging
1925trip to France
1925divorced from Kathleen
1926marriage to Frances Lee
1926traveled to Ireland
1927purchased Asgaard Farm, AuSable, New York
1927editor of Creative Art
1927helped organize National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Washington, D.C.
1929sailed to Greenland on Direction
1930publication of N by E
1932-1933returned to Greenland
1934-1935final trip to Greenland
1935publication of Salamina
1936trip to Puerto Rico
1937trip to Brazil
1937-1938Post Office Department mural commission and controversy over Eskimo-language message interpreted as encouraging Puerto Rican independence
1939divorced from Frances
1939General Electric Co. mural commission for New York World's Fair
1940publication of This Is My Own
1940marriage to Shirley Johnstone (Sally)
1942solo exhibition, Know and Defend America, at Wildenstein Galleries, New York City
1946elected to Executive Committee of American Labor Party
1948congressional candidate, American Labor Party
1948transferred ownership of dairy to remaining employees after boycott resulting from support of Wallace for president
1949attended World Congress for Peace, Paris
1950-1958denied U.S. passport; lawsuit, appeals, and Supreme Court decision reinstating right to travel
1953testified before House Un-American Activities Committee
1955publication of It's Me, O Lord
1958one-man show at Hermitage Museum, Leningrad
1959publication of Of Men and Mountains
1960gift of Kent Collection to Friendship House, Moscow
1960exhibition at Pushkin Museum, Moscow
1963publication of Greenland Journal
1966elected to Academy of Arts of the USSR
1967awarded Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow
1969oral history interview, Archives of American Art
1969home at Asgaard destroyed by fire; papers survived with some water and smoke damage
1971died, Plattsburgh, New York
1976major gift of Kent work donated to Plattsburgh State University Art Museum
1978dedication of the Rockwell Kent Gallery, Feinberg Library
2000 bequest from estate of Sally Kent Gorton of remaining painting, drawings, books, archives of Rockwell Kent and Rockwell Kent Legacies.
*Taken from the Archives of American Art finding aid to the Rockwell Kent papers.
button Top of Page
button Introduction
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), an energetic and multitalented man, pursued many interests and careers during his very long and active life. At various times he was an architect, draftsman, carpenter, unskilled laborer, painter, illustrator, printmaker, commercial artist, designer, traveler/explorer, writer, professional lecturer, dairy farmer, and political activist.

While studying architecture at Columbia University, Kent enrolled in William Merritt Chase's summer school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He then redirected his career ambitions toward painting and continued to study with Chase in New York. Kent spent a summer working and living with Abbott H. Thayer in Dublin, New Hampshire, and attended the New York School of Art, where Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller were his teachers.

Critically and financially, Kent was a successful artist. He was very well known for his illustration work-- particularly limited editions of the classics, bookplates, and Christmas cards. He was a prolific printmaker, and his prints and paintings were acquired by many major museums and private collectors. During the post- World War II era, Kent's political sympathies resulted in the loss of commissions, and his adherence to artistic conservatism and outspoken opposition to modern art led to disfavor within art circles. After many years of declining reputation in this country and unsuccessful attempts to find a home for the Kent Collection, Kent gave his unsold paintings--the majority of his oeuvre--to the Soviet Union, where he continued to be immensely popular.

An avid traveler, Kent was especially fascinated by remote, Arctic lands and often stayed for extended periods of time to paint, write, and become acquainted with the local inhabitants. Between 1918 and 1935, he wrote and illustrated several popular books about his experiences in Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kent was much in demand as a lecturer, making several nationwide tours under the management of a professional lecture bureau; he spoke mainly about his travels, but among his standard lectures were some on "art for the people."

In 1927, Kent purchased Asgaard Farm at AuSable Forks, New York, in the Adirondacks, where he lived for the remainder of his life, operating a modern dairy farm on a modest scale for many years. As a young man, Kent met Rufus Weeks, became committed to social justice, and joined the Socialist Party. Throughout his life, he supported left-wing causes and was a member or officer of many organizations promoting world peace and harmonious relations with the Soviet Union, civil rights, civil liberties, antifascism, and organized labor. Kent was frequently featured as a celebrity sponsor or speaker at fund- raising events for these causes. In 1948, he ran unsuccessfully as the American Labor Party's candidate for Congress. Kent's unpopular political views eventually led to the dissolution of his dairy business, resulted in a summons to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport, an action that subsequently was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kent wrote two autobiographies, This Is My Own (1940) and It's Me, O Lord (1955). In 1969, he was the subject of an oral history interview conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art.
Rockwell Kent Gallery
Museum Hours: Daily Noon to 4 pm, Closed Holidays

Plattsburgh State Art Museum
Museum Home PageOfficeExhibitionsGalleriesPublicationsMap
Plattsburgh State University of New York

Copyright 2004, The Plattsburgh State Art Museum. All rights reserved.
Copyright Statement
Website By Cecilia Esposito and David Driver
Send comments to: Plattsburgh State Art Museum