WILLIAM KENT, 1919-2012
Photographer unknown, ca. mid-1990's.

William Kent, 93, noted sculptor and printmaker, died August 16, 2012, at his home in Durham, CT. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he graduated from Northwestern University, and attended Yale University School of Music to study music theory and composition with Paul Hindemith. While at Yale he became interested in art, and began to teach himself to paint, and then to sculpt in clay, stone and wood. Completely self-taught as an artist, by 1963 he began to carve huge, discarded slate blackboards, and developed unique methods of printing on rice paper and mono-prints on fabric, working alone and without a printing press. From 1962 to 1965, he had one-person exhibitions at the Castellane Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York City, and at other museum and gallery exhibitions along the East Coast. His sculptures and prints were critically acclaimed, and purchased by museums and important collectors.

In 1964, William Kent moved to Durham, CT, where he was able to live off sales of his art, supplemented by a part time job as the first curator for the John Slade Ely House in nearby New Haven. He carved the slates and made prints from 1963-1976, and then returned to carving monumental wood sculptures, completing 226 of them between 1977-2012. He was working on his 227th two days before he died. At his death 2,000 prints, and 250 of the over 800 sculptures carved in his lifetime, remained in the studio.

Four years before his death the artist formed the William Kent Charitable Foundation for the purpose of helping artists over the age of 60 years of age with financial difficulties, a state in which he found himself at times over the years.

William Kent: Up With Everything

You are cordially invited to a solo art show for William Kent.

Curated by Silvermine Gallery Director Jeffrey Mueller.

Opening Reception: Sunday, February 26th, 2 to 4 PM.
Silvermine Guild Art Center -- 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT 06840


Exhibition: February 26 through April 9, 2017.


Originally from Kansas City, William Kent (1919-2012) was a student of Music Theory and Composition in the 1940s at the Yale School of Music, studying with the world-famous composer Paul Hindemith. He was also a fine pianist, and wrote two operas and some shorter musical works as well, published under his birth-name of William Williamson. As a self-taught print-maker, he invented print-making processes using surplus slate school blackboards and printing of fabrics and rice paper. As a Post WWII-artist, he was represented by the Richard Castelane Gallery in New York City; and his artwork was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was friends with some of the famous artists of his day. In New Haven, he was hired as the first Art Curator of the John Slade Ely House (1959-1965), but later became a recluse for many years in his large
studio-barn and small house in the hills and dairy country of Durham, CT.

Outspoken against the U.S. House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and deeply affected by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, these themes appear as angry, anguished, and touching imagery in his prints. As a sculptor, he worked in a wide variety of natural woods to carve oversize household and naturalistic objects, such as huge cork screws, meat-grinders, light-bulbs, bananas, and 28 shell-beans !
~ Johnes Ruta

This Silvermine Art Center exhibition promises to be an extraordinary one, showing both Kent's Protest Prints and late in-the-round wood sculptures.

Twenty prints have been chosen, some of which have never been seen, even on visits to his Durham, CT studio/barn. TRUST THE PEEPLE! (1964), and 'REJECT THOSE DEMOGOGIC PLEAS' (1970), are two of the prints on colorful fabrics that have been stored on rolls for decades since they were printed.

William Kent's Political and Satirerotic messages are timeless, and especially relevant now with the world's political upheaval is his magnificent 68" x 42" print with the quote from Tacitus, THEY HAVE MADE A DESERT AND CALLED IT PEACE (1970).

When you see this exhibition, think about when the prints were made, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam War (this print below), landing on the moon, and the more open attitude about sex during the 1960's. And, see how Bill felt about it all in his red, white and blue portrait UP WITH EVERYTHING, showing off his star and striped cuff with one finger pointing up in the air. Truly a man of his time, with a message for ours.
~ Joan R. Baer

William Kent's large-scale slate prints on fabric and rice paper fall into the various categories of political satire and commentary, erotica, prints from gravestone etchings, and prints that appropriate the border designs of traditional greeting cards. Vibrant, original and out-of-the-box, they were first noticed by the art world in 1966 when Kent's work appeared alongside work by Philip Guston, Jasper Johns, and Robert Motherwell at the Whitney Museum's Annual Show. A critic for the Herald-Tribune called them "large, highly amusing and inventive prints that look like Pop posters but really go deeper in their social significance and satiric overtones." In the late seventies, Kent stopped making the prints and turned to carving wood sculptures as masterful and astonishing as any of his prints. The artist, who worked out of a barn studio in Durham, Connecticut, died in 2012.

"The prints are the strength of this exhibit, "says Silvermine Gallery Director Jeffrey Mueller. "They have gravity and humor, and his materials are interesting--almost inappropriate fabrics paired with poignant subject matter. His choice of imagery and phrasing is timeless and has the power to resonate even today." A selection of Kent's work, curated by Mueller and James Reed, manager of Silvermine's Gabor Peterdi International Print Collection.

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Where Kent's work may still be seen:

Wall Street Gallery, 91 Wall Street, Madison, CT
Contact: (203) 245-2912, www.extremeframing.com

Kent sculptures and prints
at three other Connecticut locations
All curated by Leo Feroleto
Six Summit Gallery, Ivoryton, CT
(860) 581-8332, www.sixsummitgallery.com

Copper Beech Inn, Ivoryton, CT

Chamard Vineyards' Bistro & Wine Cellar,
Clinton, CT

Kent Studio/Barn open for visitors
Beginning May 6
10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
269 Howd Road, Durham, CT.
Barn phone that day: (860) 349-8047.

Tours by appointment other days: (860) 349-3957

Recent & Past Exhibitions
(please click here)
  1. In December 2014, William Kent's property at 269 Howd Road in Durham, Connecticut, was placed by Connecticut's Historic Preservation Council of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in the State Register of Historic Places.

The designation was facilitated through the efforts of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. The Trust is beginning a new project titled Creative Places that will list writers and artists, who found Connecticut conducive for their creative efforts in the mid-century Modern period of the 1900s. William Kent created art for 48 years at his unusual studio/barn in rural Durham, and it was one of the first two sites nominated by the Trust to illustrate Creative Places. It is expected a trail will be developed throughout the state for the education and enjoyment of visitors and residents.

2. A sculpture by William Kent, who is often called "Durham's Hidden Treasure," is now on loan to the Durham Town Hall. First Selectman, Laura L. Francis, has recognized the artist's importance to the Town through her selection of Shell Bean #14 for display in this centrally located town building. The 7 foot 8 inch sculpture of pine, cherry and white oak was carved from August 2 to October 2, 1998.

"Shell Bean #14" by William Kent, 7'8" sculpture, pine, cherry, & white oak
Photo Credit: Richard Dlugos

The Crucifixion of Kent: Life and Work of An American Sculptor, an article by Matthew Spellberg
on the website of Music & Literature: An Arts Magazine.

Part One: http://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2015/12/15/the-crucifixion-of-kent-part-one

Part Two: http://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2015/12/21/the-crucifixion-of-kent-life-and-work-of-an-american-sculptor-part-two

MUSEUM OF SEX, NYC “My Life Ruined by Sex” a solo exhibition of William Kent's Satirerotic Sculptures and Prints from April 4 – November 10, 2013.  
  Aaron Galleries' presentations at the IFPDA art fairs in November, NYC, and December, 2013, Miami.  

Museum of Sex Exhibition Articles:

PRWEB.com Online Visibility from Vocus: " 'My Life Ruined By Sex' artworks by William Kent."

BWW Art World: My Life Ruined By Sex: Erotic Works by William Kent

PLEASE KILL ME.com - The Uncensored Oral History of Punk -- William Kent Exhibit at the Museum of Sex, New York City

  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -- article on William Kent.  
Enquiries are welcome, see below, or Contact page.

Agents for William Kent's Art

Leo Feroleto
Six Summit Gallery
Ivoryton, CT


Patrick Albano
Aaron Galleries
Chicago area

1031 Waukegan Rd
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 724-0660


Joan Rich Baer, Joanrbaer@aol.com

Tours of the William Kent's studio/barn in Durham, CT --
are available to view over 200 monumental sculptures
and hundreds of slate prints.

Contact Alicia Miller
aim64@sbcglobal.net or 860-349-3957.
William Kent Charitable Foundation Trustees

Alicia Miller, chairperson
Alan Bisbort
Richard Chorney
Johnes Ruta
William Kent sculptures and prints in his studio.
Photo credit: Mara Lavitt staff photojournalist New Haven Register
Twitter: @NHRmlavitt
The text of this website is available for modification and reuse under the terms
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and the GNU Free Documentation License.
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Website created & edited by Johnes Ruta, Trustee, The William Kent Charitable Foundation azothgallery@comcast.net