Famous in his own time as a painter, author, arctic adventurer, and political activist, Rockwell Kent (1882–1971) left his most enduring legacy as a printmaker and illustrator of books. His bold and enigmatic images of mysterious, statuesque figures in spiritual communion with the natural world proved equally effective in corporate advertising campaigns and book projects alike. This exhibition follows the artist’s journey from Alaska to Newfoundland, and from the pages of Vanity Fair magazine to the deck of Captain Ahab’s ship in Moby Dick. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection of Rockwell Kent prints, drawings, and illustrated books is virtually unmatched in its depth and diversity. Primarily assembled by Carl Zigrosser, Kent’s longtime friend and the founding curator of the Museum’s department of prints and drawings, the holdings of Kent’s works on paper includes important examples from throughout the artist’s career.
Rockwell Kent—Voyager is the first exhibition at the Museum to focus entirely on the work of this iconic early-twentieth-century American master. Limited-edition prints and illustrated books provide a broad survey of Kent’s success as a graphic artist, while related pen-and-ink drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks, woodblocks, and lithographic stones allow a glimpse into his creative process.