William Kent was a carver of monumental sculptures in wood and stone and a prolific printmaker. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1919. 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 a visual artist, he began to sculpt in the late 1940s and early 50s, and by 1963 had developed a unique method of printmaking, which involved carving into huge sheets of slate, and using them to make mono-prints on rice paper and fabric, all of this done 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, Kent moved to a small house and barn in 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. In mid-1965, he was fired from this job, because a well received exhibition of his prints at the Castellane Gallery in NYC was considered pornography by the New Haven locals. A further complication was the slates used for the prints had been carved in his basement apartment at Ely House.
After his NYC gallery closed abruptly in February, 1967, cutting off his other source of income, he gradually sank into a depression, and cut himself off from friends. He devoted himself entirely to his art, sometimes working in near-total isolation and poverty, for the next half-century. Atempts in later years to find another gallery failed, as POP art, where his work had seemed to fit in, was on the decline, and his out-of-style carvings, and angry prints had been out of view of the NYC art scene for too many years.
He carved 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 barn he used as his 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 frequently found himself over the years. On August 16, 2012, William Kent died at his home in Durham, CT. He was 93.
2009, Photograph by Harold Shapiro

William Kent

  • Born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1919
  • Died in Durham, Connecticut, August 16, 2012
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, B.S
  • Yale University School of Music, 1944-1947: Studied Music Theory and Composition with Paul Hindemith
  • Curator, John Slade Ely House Art Center, New Haven, CT, 1960-65
  • Founder & Secretary of Professional Artists of Connecticut, 1962-65
  • Award for Artistic Excellence from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, 2009

Collections (A Selection)

  • John and Kimiko Powers
  • Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester University
  • Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
  • DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Princeton University Art Museum
  • New Britain Museum of American Art
  • Richard Brown Baker
  • Charles B. Benenson
  • Robert M. Bohlen
    Dave and Reba Williams
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London CT
  • Yale University Art Gallery

Exhibitions (A Selection)

  • Silvermine Guild Art Center, 2017
  • Six Summit Gallery, 2016
  • Gallery RIVAA, 2016
  • Castellane Gallery, NYC. One-man shows: 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
  • Wadsworth Atheneum, 11 New England Sculptors, 1963
  • Pennsylvania Academy, 1964
  • DeCordova Museum, 1964/66: Two-man show
  • Brooklyn Museum, 15th Annual Print Exhibition, 1964
  • Sundsvall Museum, Sweden 1965
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Annual, 1966
  • Tirca Karlis Gallery, Provincetown, MA, August, 1966. One-man show
  • New Britain Museum of American Art, 1975
  • Monique Knowlton Gallery, Kent, CT 1994
  • The Hollycroft Foundation, Ivoryton, CT 1996
  • Colgate University, The Picker Art Gallery, 1997: One-man show
  • The York Square Gallery, New Haven, CT, 2000: One-man show
  • Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, 2000-2001
  • The Sculpture Mile, Madison, CT, 2001-2003
  • Chase/Freedman Gallery, West Hartford, CT, 2003: One-man show
  • Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, 2004
  • Mobile Alabama Museum, 2005
  • Evergreen Woods, Branford, CT, 2005: One-man show
  • The Sculpture Mile at Middletown, CT. 2005-08
  • Museum of Arts & Design, NYC, 2006
  • Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT. 2008
  • Kehler Liddell Gallery, New Haven, CT 2009: One-man show
  • Museum of Sex, NYC. One-man show, April 4 through November 10, 2013


  • Part One: 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 Two: 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
  • William Kent: The story of my friendship with the Master Sculptor by Marvin Beloff (Marvin Beloff, publisher, 2013)
  • Durham’s hidden treasure: the works of a prickly master wood carver, by Randall Beach (The New Haven Register, November 4, 2012)
  • WILLIAM KENT A Remembrance: World should note his passing by Alan Bisbort (The Sunday Republican, Waterbury, CT, August 26, 2012)
  • Old Master, by Brandon Benevento (New Haven Magazine, July 2009)
  • The Wood Man: Ending the year on a grace note with Bill Kent, by Alan Bisbort (Hartford Advocate, December 27, 2007)
  • The Artists Bluebook: 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005, ed. Lonnie Pierson ( Inc. 2005)
  • Nature Transformed: Wood Art from the Bohlen Collection, ed. Sean M. Ulmer (University of Michigan Museum of Art 2004)
  • The Art of Shapes and Forms, by Eric Lopkin (“Weekend” Cover Story, The Middletown Press, August 28, 2003)
  • Wood Be Master, by Alan Bisbort (GADFLYONLINE, March 4, 2002)
  • Chiseling Away at Life, by Tracey O’Shaughnessy (Waterbury Republican-American, 2002)
  • How Prints Got an Artist in Hot Water, by Alan Bisbort (The New York Times, Sunday Connecticut Section, September 3, 2000)
  • A Carving Artist, by Alan Bisbort (The New Haven Advocate, December 2, 1999)
  • Smith Show is a Universe of Self-Taught Artists, Laura Beach, Assoc. Ed., (Antiques and The Arts Weekly, March 12, 1999) Photo of dealer with “The Sculptor’s Hand Holding Jerusalem Cricket.”
  • Sculptor in Search of Discerning Eyes,by Richard Weize,(The New York Times, October 4, 1998).
  • Abstract creations become wood sculptor’s life work: Acceptance comes hard for sculptor, by Richard Weizel (The Boston Globe, August 23, 1998).
  • Connecticut Masters, by Alan Bisbort (Connecticut Magazine, August 1998)
  • Pop Art with Social Pop: Slate Prints by William Kent, by Robert McVaugh (Catalogue for The Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, 1997)
  • Talented Durham wood sculptor labors in obscurity, by Robert Schiller, (The Middletown Press, April 15, 1996).
  • Talented Durham wood sculptor labors in obscurity, by Robert Schiller, (The Middletown Press, April 15, 1996).
  • William Kent: An Odessey in Art, by Don Schiller (Record-Journal, Meriden CT, Sunday, March 31, 1996)
  • Raw Vision, (September, 1982 , British magazine.)
  • Arts in America/A Bibliography Vol. I, ed. Bernard Karpel & Ruth Spiegel, 1979
  • The Art of the Print, by Fritz Eichenberg (Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1976)
  • POP ART, Lucy R. Lippard with contributions by Lawrence Alloway, Nancy Marmer, Nicholas Calas (Frederick A. Praeger, 1966)
  • ART MAGAZINE NO.9 1966, 3-page article in a Japanese Magazine 1966
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art Annual 1965, catalogue
  • 11 New England Sculptors, Wadsworth Atheneum Catalogue, 1963
  • WILLIAM KENT CARVINGS: A Record, Ed. William Kent (Philistine Press, 1960)
  • ELIODORE: AN ALLEGORY FOR ARTISTS of William KENT, by William Kent (Philistine Press, 1960, 2nd Ed.).
  • The Dime Store, by William Kent (Philistine Press, 1960).
  • WOOD CARVINGS 1955, by William Kent (Philistine Press, 1955).
  • ART, by William Kent (Printed by the Author, 1956).
  • STONECARVINGS 1955: WILLIAM KENT Stonecarvings 1951-1955, (Printed by the Author – New Haven, Connecticut 204 Prospect Street March 1956).

Contact the Foundation

P.O. Box 212

Durham, CT 06422

P: 860-349-8047

E: [email protected]

Studio Location

269 Howd Road

Durham, CT 06422

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