Rockwell Kent Collection
The Rockwell Kent Collection is the most complete and balanced collection of Kent’s work in the United States. The acceptance of Shirley (Sally) Johnstone (Kent) Gorton’s, third wife of Rockwell Kent, initial gift to the college in 1974 began a process which culminated in the official dedication of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum in 1989. An additional gift from the estate of Sally Kent in 2000 and gifts from other generous donors have become the cornerstone of the growing art collection of Plattsburgh State Art Museum. The collection was originally envisioned by the artist himself and the then president of the college, Dr. George Angell. Other donors to the collection include: Dan Burne Jones, George Spector, Seward W. Pulitzer, Dr. James Chingos and Tom Della Donna.
The collection’s prints and drawings span the great expanse of the artist’s interests and show the evolution and interrelationship of the ideas in many different media while crossing into the arenas of both commercial and fine art. The drawings include works in pencil, pen and ink wash. They range from on-the-spot notations to finished works for all the different forms in which he worked. Preliminary and working drawings make it possible for us to witness the often subtle compositional changes made prior to the completion of a print, illustration, painting or decorative object. Others reveal the artist’s immediate reaction to visual stimulus and allow us to glimpse the seed from which all great works grow. Examples of this are splendid sets of drawings from initial sketch to final transfer for Wake Up America and Dirty Deborah. The prints and litho stone are also in the collection.
The Kent Legacies generously donated an outstanding collection of first edition books written and/or illustrated by Rockwell Kent. Perhaps the most spectacular first edition is the Lakeside Press three volume Moby Dick which is in mint condition and housed in the original shipping box. At least one copy of all of Kent’s major book work is represented in the collection and the ephemera contains a fine cross section of handsome posters, bookplates, logos, letterheads, book announcements, Christmas cards, exhibition catalogs and American-Soviet friendship material.
The Kent Gallery and the Feinberg Library afford an unusual resource to scholars of twentieth century American art. The Rockwell Kent Collection portrays Kent’s growth as an artist, as well as his varied interests of a humane and political nature.
The Rockwell Kent Gallery
Located on the 2nd floor in the Feinberg Library building, SUNY Plattsburgh’s Rockwell Kent Gallery showcases Kent’s paintings, prints, illustrations and other artwork. The gallery has the most complete and balanced collection of Kent’s work found in America. It is part of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum which has changing exhibitions throughout the year. Recently, we Celebrated the Spirit of Rockwell Kent.
The Rockwell Kent Mini Symposium 2023
Creative Catalyst: Exploring Rockwell Kent’s Alaskan Adventure
Thursday, April 6 & Friday, April 7
Two days of engaging and invigorating activities in a celebration of inspiration and creativity. Discover the remarkable story of Rockwell Kent’s 1918 Alaskan adventure as you connect through art, storytelling, film screenings, and workshops — all while being inspired to pursue your true calling. Join us for this special occasion that honors the legacy of the Rockwell Kent Collection.
View Rockwell Kent Symposium Recordings
Meet the Presenters
Claudia McGehee: “Wilderness: A Rockwell Kent's Alaska Inspired Picture Book Making Adventure”
Doug Capra: “The Turbulent Genesis of Rockwell Kent’s Wilderness”
The Kent Collection in Special Collections
In 1974, Sally Kent Gorton presented SUNY Plattsburgh with a representative collection of Rockwell Kent’s works that became the foundation for the college’s Rockwell Kent Collection. In 2000, she donated additional items to the collection, which are referred to as the “Kent Legacies” materials.
Kent manuscripts, imprints and other ephemera are housed in Special Collections in Feinberg Library. Archival Kent materials are located in the Rockwell Kent Special Collections. For copyright and permissions information, please see below.