Two art collections collide at the Hyde museum this April, highlighted by a number of seldom-seen works. The pair of exhibits—one entitled “Rockwell Kent: Prints from the Ralf C. Nemec Collection & Paintings from North Country Collection,” the other, “A Life and Art of His Own: Paintings from North Country Collections”—celebrate the work of American painter, printmaker and illustrator Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). They’ll be on display at the art museum and historic house from April 8 (this Sunday) through July 22.
Born in Tarrytown, NY, and educated at Columbia University, Kent was one of the most versatile artists of the early 20th century, working as a printmaker, painter and ceramicist, as well as woodcutter, writer, illustrator and architect (he studied the latter at Columbia). Though Kent would end up producing many of his famous works, hunkered down at his Adirondacks studio in Au Sable Forks, NY, he was well known for his traveling bug, which led him through Greenland, South America’s Tierra del Fuego, Newfoundland, Alaska and a number of other rugged areas both abroad and stateside. It helped inform his prescient, modernist artwork.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Kent also stood out by way of his political views, which at times were seen as subversive and controversial. (Some still might believe so.) Politically socialist and progressive, he would spend his lifetime as a social activist, supporting labor-related causes and friendship with the Soviets—which in the ’50s, caught him in the crosshairs of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare. “He was a great patriot and very vocal about his strong belief in social rights,” says Jonathan Canning, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programming at the Hyde. “That led Kent to be labeled a socialist, making him a controversial figure.”
The Hyde’s hoard includes a collection of 52 prints, along with a selection of ceramics by the artist; as well as 37 paintings, many of which have been sourced from Plattsburgh State University’s art museum. The painting collection also includes several that have rarely seen the light of day.
One of Glens Falls’ top tourist attractions, the Hyde’s permanent collection includes nearly 4,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, graphics, sculptures and more. The Hyde includes works by everyone from Rembrandt and Edgar Degas to Pablo Picasso and Winslow Homer. For more on the Rockwell Kent exhibit, click here. —additional reporting by Natalie Moore