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 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.