PRINTS FROM 1963-1976
William Kent often used subjects from textbooks, and newspaper articles that he then adapted in a creative way by first carving the image into a slate blackboard. Working alone and without a press, he then inked the stone, covered it with rice paper or fabric, hand rolled a small brayer over the material, and then applied heat for the ink to better adhere. Those on fabric, because he varied the color of the inks and design of the material, were usually mono-prints, and those on rice paper could also be in editions. Edition numbers are to be considered "intended" editions, perhaps with fewer or more actually printed.
Other examples of the prints shown here are available, possibly only two or three from a Master Slate, or perhaps dozens. Contact joanRbaer@aol.com to see a wider selection.
The prints fall into seven overlapping groups:
1. Political Satires (presidents and politicians).
2. Riot Series (The South in the 1970's).
3. Erotica (referred to by the artist as "Satirerotic")
4. Prints from rubbings of early gravestones.
5. Prints using elaborate borders from sentimental greeting cards. These were sandblasted by a monument company after the artist carved the 3M rubber masking that was then applied to the surface of the slate.
6. Four prints after Beardsley's SALOME.
7. Four Bi-Centennial prints 1976.
The Insect, Bird, Sports, Flying Cocks, and some of the Riot prints of the 1970's were carved on many separate slates of different sizes. They could then be moved around and combined in different positions for each separate print.
click on each image for a larger view
|WOOD & STONE SCULPTURES 1977-2012|
|EARLY SCULPTURES 1948-1963|
|A Brief History of William Kent's Life Creating Art|
Kent began creating sculptures in 1947, and continued until two days before
his death in 2012 at age 93. Self-taught as an artist, he experimented with
driftwood, plaster, and cast stone, until in 1950 when he turned to carving
marble and limestone in-the-round, and slate bas-reliefs. His subjects at
that time were usually drawn from nature, and most all these early works
were sold over the years.
In 1956, he began carving wood, and among other subjects, created a series of twenty-one huge sea creatures (squid, octopods, cuttlefish), often combining stone and wood within one sculpture. In 1964, the Castellane Gallery in NYC exhibited this series, and eleven of them remain now in his studio.
After 1957, William Kent's use of stone was mainly for small slate bas-reliefs, and in 1963, after finding a store of discarded blackboards (Italian black slate), he began to carve bas-reliefs solely for the purpose of making prints. Over the next 13 years he carved 118 large master slates (some over six feet tall), and 126 smaller hand-size slates he could use with more variety in his mono-prints. He considered the slates as "...works of art in themselves." From them he made by hand, working alone and without the use of a printing press, about 2,500 prints.
completing his last four master slates in 1976, these on Bi-Centennial
subjects, he ceased carving slate and making prints, except for a brief
two-month return a few years before his death when he made prints from
several of the smaller slates he could still manage from his wheelchair.
In 1977, he began carving large wood sculptures again. His first piece was the monumental "D.Duck #1, as American Eagle, on Trash Can, on Snow Tires" carved from a piece of solid mahogany. It took over a year to carve, and he said, "I thought I would never finish it." This one and five others that followed in his D. Duck series are the only sculptures in-the-round that carry a political message similar to his prints. After 1982, the subjects for his monumental sculptures were often tools, food, or odd toys and curiosities he picked up at flea markets, and he would tell viewers not to think about the object itself, but its shape and form.
Seeing one of his small models, (a bent screw-driver, an apple, a safety-pin, a boot,) blown-up in size 10, 50, or 100 times, did make one later view everyday objects in a different light. He told friends he knew his large works were unsalable, but he would not change his creative need to accommodate popular acceptance.
William Kent never married, and obsessively concentrated on creating art, taking only part-time jobs until 1970, when sales of his art began to dry up. He then worked full time in a box factory in nearby Portland, Connecticut, at first cleaning the machines, but in time became the box designer. He worked there for 14 years until he retired at age 65, and Social Security could then supplement sales of his art for the rest of his life. During those 14 years, he would rise before dawn to work in his studio before heading to the job he hated, and over that period produced 40 of the large master slates, 126 smaller ones, hundreds and hundreds of prints, and 12 large wood sculptures.
In the 1960's both the sculptures and prints were exhibited widely, even as far as the Sundsvall Museum in Sweden for a one-man show. He received excellent reviews from prominent art critics, and his work is owned by museums and important art collectors. Although he continued having exhibitions at the Castellane Gallery until 1965, and at other galleries and museum group shows through the 1960's, he gradually withdrew from the art scene, and living alone, worked daily in his studio barn in rural Durham, Connecticut until his death on August 16, 2012.
Mr. Kent's work from 1947 is not recorded, but from 1948 on, including the slates for printmaking, he carved 850 sculptures. On his death 250 sculptures and about 2,000 prints remained in his studio.
|by Joan Rich Baer, Research Director, The William Kent Charitable Foundation|
For CDs of all William Kent's prints and sculptures, please contact joanRbaer@aol.com.
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