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Rockwell Kent
(1882 - 1971)

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Rockwell Kent, artist, author, and political activist, had a long and varied career. During his lifetime, he worked as an architectural draftsman, illustrator, printmaker, painter, lobsterman, ship's carpenter, and dairy farmer. Born in Tarrytown Heights, New York, he lived in Maine, Newfoundland, Alaska, Greenland, and the Adirondacks and explored the waters around Tierra del Fuego in a small boat. Kent's paintings, lithographs, and woodcuts often portrayed the bleak and rugged aspects of nature; a reflection of his life in harsh climates.

Kent had an unusually long and thorough training as an artist. He was a student at the Horace Mann School in New York City and subsequently studied architecture at Columbia University, toward the end of which he felt a strong inclination toward painting and took up the study of art under William Merritt Chase at the Shinnecock Hills School. He studied later at the New York School, under Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, and finally as an apprentice to Abbott Thayer at Dublin, New Hampshire. Henri encouraged him to go to Monhegan Island where Kent painted on his own. He was absorbed in the awesome power of the environment; nature's timeless energy and contrasting forces influenced his work throughout his lifetime. His early and lasting relationship with the sea was portrayed again and again in his work.

A political activist, Rockwell Kent championed social causes from the 1930s until his death. Although Kent insisted that he never belonged to the Communist party, his consistent support of radical causes contributed to a decline in his artistic popularity during the 1940s and 50s. In the latter decade, the State Department revoked his passport. Kent sued for its reinstatement and emerged victorious in landmark Supreme Court case. He became very popular in the Soviet Union, and in 1957, half a million Russians attended an exhibition of his work. Subsequently, he donated eighty paintings and eight hundred prints and drawings to the Russian people. In 1967, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.

His work is most frequently identified with that of the American Social Realists and the great muralists of the 1920s and 30s. Kent's figure-studies show with what perseverance he worked to perfect his draftsmanship and his ability to portray the human form in any pose or manner; his architectural training enabled him to draw objects accurately and convincingly. His experience as a carpenter and builder and his familiarity with tools served him well when he took up the graphic process. His blocks were marvels of beautiful cutting, every line deliberate and under perfect control. The tones and lines in his lithography were solidly built up, subtle, and full of color.

Kent stands out in American art in his use of symbolism. Humanity was the hero in most of his prints, which are symbolic representations of certain intuitions about life's destiny and the meaning of existence. Many of the prints seem to depict humanity in a struggle to capture ultimate reality, to penetrate into the mystery of the dark night of the universe, and to discover the reasons for existence.


Harco Gallery updates our online inventory as new works become available, however if you are looking for a specific work not in our online inventory, contact us.


Girl Jumping Rope


Mountain Climber


Home Port


Night Flight


Late 19th and early 20th century American art with an emphasis on the 1930s since 1977
international fine print dealers association