Editor's note: The following review was republished on August 18, 2005 in Resource Library with permission of the author. The text is a review of the revised edition of The Prints of Rockwell Kent: A Catalogue Raisonné. The review first appeared in the Winter, 2005 issue of CRSA Forum: The Newsletter of the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association. If you have questions or comments regarding the review, please contact Scott R. Ferris at 3000 Moose River Road, Boonville, NY 13309.



 

In Review: The Prints of Rockwell Kent: A Catalogue Raisonné

by Scott R. Ferris

 

 
Dan Burne Jones, with an Introduction by Carl Zigrosser
The Prints of Rockwell Kent: A Catalogue Raisonné
Revised by Robert Rightmire, with contributions by Jake Milgram Wien
San Francisco, CA.: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 2002. 448 pp.; 9 color ills., 325 b/w. $150.

Catalogue raisonné. An annotated catalogue of the works of an artist that aims at completeness.

Producing a catalogue raisonné (hereafter: CR) is a daunting, all consuming task. The scholar compiling a CR must possess an intimate knowledge of the artwork under study, have examined the artwork and relevant studies, and have access to related, often obscure references -- artist's notes, photography, publications, ephemera. For the chronicler who is fortunate enough to be working with an artist, the burden may be vastly reduced.

Though late out of the gate on this specific project, Dan Burne Jones had accumulated volumes of reference materials, over decades of collecting, prior to obtaining the artist's confidence. Therefore, when Carl Zigrosser, who had begun the process of cataloguing Kent's prints, decided he could not complete the project, he confidently relinquished his task to Burne Jones.

Burne Jones came to this CR project a trained studio artist and a teacher of fine arts, whose own graphic work reflected the influence of Kent and Lynd Ward. He was a traditionalist in the sense that he maintained a restricted view of how a print was created. For example, he favored the theory that a lithograph was directly drawn on and hand pulled from a stone or plate. Nonetheless, he apparently possessed no qualms about Kent's propensity to have his relief prints pulled from an electro-type versus the original block.

Though Burne Jones, like most CR scholars, was meticulous (not infallible) in his research, the odds of locating all the artwork and related data were stacked against him. Consequently, there are a few factors that instigated the updating of this CR: 1.) the publication of this tome alerted holders of previously undisclosed material to come forth with their objects; 2.) the ongoing study of this artist and his work generated a wealth of new data; and 3.) the greater access to original resources, and the critiquing by informed critics, brought to light errors throughout the text.

Not long after its initial release, Alan Wofsy, a publisher of catalogues raisonné, anticipated the need for a revised edition of The Prints of Rockwell Kent (hereafter: Original Edition). He first had contact with this author in January of 1982, when I was in the final stretch of my tenure as director of The Rockwell Kent Legacies -- the promotional arm of the Kent estate. Though no discussion of the CR occurred between us, Wofsy, for all intensive purposes, had established contact with the estate. Subsequent attempts to develop a working relationship with the estate wallowed. When Kent's widow, Sally Kent Gorton -- the owner of most of the artist's/author's intellectual property -- passed away in May of 2000, she bequeathed the majority of her rights to the College Foundation at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. Apparently, during the transition of affairs from Sally Gorton to the College Foundation, negotiations, that may have germinated between Mr. Wofsy and the estate, collapsed. As a result, the failure to establish a cooperative venture has crippled the release of the revised edition (hereafter: Revised Edition).

The Revised Edition, a collaboration between Mr. Wofsy, as publisher, and Kent aficionado Robert Rightmire as editor (with additional commentary by fellow Kent aficionado and dealer, Jake Milgram Wien) was reprinted in 2002 and is being marketed independently through Alan Wofsy Fine Arts. In retrospect, the unfortunate misunderstanding between Mr. Wofsy and the copyright holders foreshadowed the mistakes that would encumber the Revised Edition, which now requires a fresh revision.

 

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