The Adirondack Museum

Blue Mountain Lake, NY




The View from Asgaard: Rockwell Kent's Adirondack Legacy

May 29 - September 18, 1999

June 1 - October 15, 2000

and by appointment


The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York, presents, starting in late May, 1999 and extending though October 15, 2000. "The View from Asgaard: Rockwell Kent's Adirondack Legacy." This exhibition is the latest in a series which began in the late 1960s of exhibitions, commercial gallery shows, auctions, and scholarly studies and publications designed to restore Rockwell Kent to his rightful place in American art. The focus of this exhibition will be Kent's lyrical depictions of the landscape in and around his Adirondack home and the breadth of artistic creations in which he employed Adirondack imagery. Left: Mountain Road, c. 1960, Adirondack Museum

Incorporating rarely exhibited paintings, drawings and prints, fabrics, books, greeting cards, and Asgaard Farm and Adirondack North Country memorabilia, the exhibition will illustrate the importance of the Adirondack landscape to the artist's diverse work as well as highlight the impact Kent had on the Adirondack community. The exhibition will be enhanced by the potential loan of Asgaard's Meadows, and Oncoming Storm: Adirondacks, two major paintings from the National Gallery of Armenia, the first time in forty years that any of the "Great Kent Collection" has returned to the United States. Also included will be Mountain Road from the Adirondack Museum's own collection and works loaned by major museums, galleries and private collections, including the The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress and The Mead Art Museum.

Rockwell Kent, acclaimed painter, a daring yachtsman, designer of fabric, pottery, jewelry and flatware, of bookplates and marks and greeting cards; an extraordinary illustrator, an architect and muralist; Rockwell Kent, socio-political activist, recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize, and first American artist to have a solo exhibition of his work tour the Soviet Union; Rockwell Kent, subject of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Committee on un-American Activities, whose work, as a result of the Committee's attention, was shunned by museums and galleries during the 1950s, retaliated and gave "the Great Kent Collection" to the Soviet Union. Right: Asgaard's Meadow, 1945, National Gallery of Armenia

The close of the twentieth century offers a great opportunity to examine the artistic work of long-time (1928-1971) Adirondack resident Rockwell Kent. In the cultural history of the Adirondacks there is no contemporary figure more artistically prolific or more paradoxical than Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). By the time Kent first came to the Adirondacks (1927) he was already an important American artist. His earliest paintings were compared to the work of Winslow Homer and his earliest writing (Wilderness, A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska) to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. At his diary farm in Ausable Forks Kent found tranquility and escape from New York City, where he earned his living, as well as a doorway to worlds of adventure. His firebrand style often put him at odds with his Ausable River valley neighbors -- a fact he documents in This Is My Own and It's Me O Lord -- and which eventually culminated in a 1948 boycott of his dairy business. Of Rockwell Kent's Adirondack work, his oil paintings are perhaps the most noteworthy. Much less known, and less understood than any of his other paintings, they portray his stylistic development, capture the essence of the man and add a unique vision to the artistic depictions of the region.

"The View from Asgaard: Rockwell Kent's Adirondack Legacy" will be accompanied by a generously illustrated full-color catalogue authored by Scott R. Ferris, Rockwell Kent scholar, author, and aficionado and Adirondack Museum Chief Curator and Curator of Art, Caroline M. Welsh. The essays will focus on Rockwell Kent's Adirondack oeuvre, his local activities, his impact on the community, and the inspiration the region afforded him. A major contribution of the volume will be a comprehensive checklist of all known Adirondack work and an extensive bibliography. Left: Oncoming Storm: Adirondacks, 1946, National Gallery of Armenia

Rockwell Kent was forty-five years old when he settled in the Adirondacks with his second wife, Frances, on two hundred acres they purchased near AuSable Forks. Here he built a home and studio along with a cow barn, operated a dairy business, and traveled to the ends of the earth or to New York City to maintain his many art activities.

Rockwell Kent's enormous energy, athletic prowess, and creative drive propelled him to levels of achievement and recognition rarely reached by his contemporaries. He was a critically acclaimed painter and muralist, a renowned printmaker, a world famous book illustrator, a distinguished graphic artist and expert on typography, an architect and builder and craftsman, from 1910 to 1948. He was also an author, lecturer, explorer, farmer, dairyman, social activist, and amateur politician. His rugged individuality, nonconformist views, and outspoken support of leftist causes during the early twentieth century through the 1950s brought him denunciation at the height of his career, a situation which was rectified towards the end of his life and after his death. Since the 1970s, his work has been the focus of numerous exhibitions and the demand for it has created a whole new generation of collectors.

The Adirondacks served as Kent's muse and his home and his solace when times were difficult. He and his third wife, Sally, recovered from political adversity, rebuilt their home after a devastating fire two years before his death, and saw the beginnings of the restoration of his reputation. He died in 1971 of a heart attack in a hospital in nearby Plattsburgh and is buried on Asgaard Farm in view of his beloved Whiteface, "the noblest single mountain in New York State." The Adirondack Museum's exhibit will bring Rockwell Kent's little known Adirondack legacy to the fore in an opportunity to return his works to the environment where they were created.

For more on Rockwell Kent please see the University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery online exhibition.


Read more about The Adirondack Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 9/20/10

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