Rockwell Kent was born in Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York the same year as fellow artist, Edward Hopper. The Tappan Zee Bridge now separates the two counties, back then it was a ferry service. Their art, unsurprisingly, is quite similar, desolate landscapes with few people and the two took similar methods, if only by their opposite, is obscuring their life: Kent moved all the up to Plattsburgh, at the end of the Adirondack Mountains & five miles from the Canadian border, while Hopper went into the heart of Manhattan and was lost in the crowd.
There is not much information on Kent the man or artist but there are lots of articles about his political activism and how in 1966 he was elected to the Academy of Arts of the U.S.S.R. and donated a large portion of his art works to the Soviet people. Jones and the introduction to his N&E woodcut work, state that he was born at 4 am, though we are skeptical of that time and Gemini ascendant and Sun.
Like James Russell Lowell, Rockwell Kent is a bundle, but instead of being all in the southern hemisphere and extroverted, his is on the south-eastern portion and self-reliant and insular. Another difference between the two is where Lowell covered all four departments; Kent only has two –the Lines of Vitality & Motivation — so much for bundles being just the same.
Jones writes that Kent is a “restless soul who practiced architecture before turning to painting” which is partially true. Kent attended the Horace Mann School, while it was still in the Village next to New York University, where he excelled at mechanical drawing. His family’s financial circumstances prevented him from pursuing career in the fine arts, so after graduating in 1900, he applied to Columbia University, uptown at Morningside Heights, to study architecture. A thorough biography of Kent’s artist career is on the National Gallery of Art’s site including discussion of this three marriages, five children and turn to paint.¹ They have many of his works of art as well on display.
He died on March 13, 1971 in Plattsburgh from a heart attack. His third wife, Sally, was at his side.
Kent started as an illustrator for an architecture firm, but found that illustration for the mag trade like Vanity Fair in the 1910’s was more lucrative and more to his style. He and the Art Nouveau movement fit together like hand and glove, much like another illustrative artist, Aubrey Beardsley, who was born in Great Britain, eleven years earlier.
As for our choice, we prefer 4 pm and not 4 am. that gives him the ascendant of 18 Scorpio with its essential ruler square it in the ninth house. We feel that is important because because it depicts his independence from convention both in his schooling and his politics and as it square his ascendant the personal cost. We think that he is not as self-reliant as the 4 am chart shows but more experiential and Pluto’s discovery in 1932 considered with Mr. Kent’s crossover from an illustrative artist to fine artist with his art book Sea & Sky.
Jupiter in the seventh house works better for a man married several times and the Moon in the tenth is perfect for someone who worked in metal lithography and engraving — both art forms that highlight sun and shadow over color and the Moon is sextile the metallic Mars in the first is an added bonus. Kent’s ascendant is directly opposite Neptune giving a particular importance to water-travels in both his life and art.
Saturn is next to Neptune in the sixth, showing the influence his father had on his work and sense of duty.s Trine Saturn’s essential tenth house that gives Mr. Kent great form and precision in his work and while the midheaven is exact the fixed star Regulus, it is also square Pluto reminding us that his poor choices in the opportunities at hand undermined his talent — this most likely is his support for Stalin and Communism during the Cold War. Even a recent retrospective in the Adirondacks mentioned that now that “hostilities were over” Rockwell Kent’s work could be shown “again.”
Right now if you are vacationing in the Lake George area, we recommend stopping in at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls near the Queensbury Factory Malls. It is an exquisite museum and showing some of his art work…until alas July 22nd.
- The National Gallery of Art on,“Rockwell Kent,” NGA Online Editions, https://purl.org/nga/collection/constituent/4494 (accessed June 26, 2018).