Born in 1919 in Kansas City, William Kent, the son of hard-working, modest-income parents, often felt himself a loner artistically and out of sync with mainstream art. He lived and worked, for much of his life, in a barn in Durham, Connecticut, where each year he created five or six large works often standing taller than he, carved from single pieces of wood purchased at local sawmills. His subjects were morphic, life size figures, insects and sea creatures, and much later in his career, surreal political effigies and quirky monumental everyday objects such as giant shoe-horns, scissors, rubber chickens, light bulbs and spark plugs.
Deeply affected by the political and social upheaval of the early 1960s, Kent was driven to express his moral outrage, dissent and activism through his art. He created low relief slate carvings combining pithy slogans and political imagery, inking and pulling graphically striking colored prints from them with titles such as “Who Killed Kennedy “, “Mob Control, and “Chiefs of Staff”, along with nature many themed and erotic prints as well. Through the over 100 slate prints he created between 1963-1976, William Kent strove to express universally recognizable truths, condemn false or hypocritical political statements, and memorialize iconic moments in American history and American popular culture.
At the upcoming Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair, September 8-10 at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, over twenty colorful slate prints by William Kent from the 1960s-70s will be available from exhibitor Marc Chabot, of Marc Chabot Fine Arts. Among these is “Nation is in Good Shape,” based on a newspaper press photo with from left: House Speaker McCormack, Senate President pro tem Hayden and Senate majority leader Mansfield after meeting with President Johnson on U.S. security affairs. A seismic graph below the text seems to reflect the steady pulse of the nation; or at least no inbound missiles. Over 50 years later the subjects of Kent's prints remain as fresh and relevant as when they were created.
Image: HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) slate print by William Kent, is as relevant today as when it was created a half century ago. Photo courtesy of: Marc Chabot Fine Arts, an exhibitor in the new Works on Paper gallery section of the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair.
Brooklyn Expo Center
79 Franklin Street
Friday Night Preview Benefit $25.00
General Admission Weekend Pass for $15 or $10 on Sunday
Friday Preview, benefiting Rare Book School, September 8 - 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Saturday, September 9 -11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Sunday, September 10 - 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.