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Academy Art Museum Features Jacob Kainen: Washington Colorist through February 26

The Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD is featuring the work of Jacob Kainen (1909-2001) in a new exhibition, Jacob Kainen: Washington Colorist.  Kainen was for several decades one of the most internationally-respected of Washington artists. His early artistic development coincided with the maturation of American abstract painting, and while his early work followed a direction more attuned to German expressionism, his artistic development still owed much to concepts shared by this group of daring New York painters.

Before coming to Washington, Kainen’s career had already gained considerable momentum. He had studied at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and New York University. In 1935, at the suggestion of his friend Stuart Davis, Kainen joined the graphic art division of the Work Projects Administration (WPA). The WPA was a Federal Agency from 1935 to 1943 that was charged with instituting and administering public works in order to relieve national unemployment. During this time, Kainen became friends with emerging artists such as Willem de Kooning, John Graham, and Adolf Dehn, whose friendships brought him new inspiration and greater influence in the art world.

Kainen distinguished himself not only as a painter and printmaker but also as a curator, overseeing prints for the U.S. National Museum from 1944 to 1966 and prints and drawings for the National Collection of Fine Arts (now the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art) from 1966 to 1970. His many one-person exhibitions include museum shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1956 and 1960; at The Phillips Collection in 1973, 1980, and 1985; and a retrospective exhibition in 1994 at the National Museum of American Art. Kainen was a founder of the Washington Print Club and acknowledged “dean” of the Washington art community up until his death in 2001. He played a major role in bringing Washington’s art community “up to speed” with major currents in the evolving art world, encouraging younger artists such Gene Davis and others of the Washington Color School.

The Academy Art Museum is proud to present the paintings and prints in this exhibition that reveal Kainen’s gradual shift from figural to abstract forms of one of Washington’s foremost twentieth-century artists. Part of the artwork is on loan from The Jacob Kainen Art Trust, while most of the paintings and prints are recent acquisitions to the Academy Art Museum’s Permanent Collection. The exhibition is sponsored by Mary Ann Schindler and Tom and Alexa Seip. Curator-led tours will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 12 p.m. and January 24 at 12 p.m. at the Museum.

In addition to the Kainen exhibition, the Museum is featuring The Washington Portfolio through February 26, 2017. The Washington Portfolio, which features 10 large prints, provides a context to the artist Jacob Kainen and his contemporaries working in Washington, DC in the 1990s. David Adamson Gallery printed the edition of 50 prints in 1994. Artists Rob Evans, Jacob Kainen, Kevin MacDonald, Tom Nakashima, William Newman, Robin Rose, Renee Stout and Andrea Way, along with photographers William Christenberry and Joyce Tenneson, were invited to work on the computer in Adamson’s shop. In 1994, the set of prints marked the debut of David Adamson’s first portfolio of artist-made, limited-edition Iris art prints. The Washington Portfolio is a recent acquisition for the Museum made possible with funds provided by its Collection Society.

For additional information, visit or call the Museum at 410-822-2787.

#1: Jacob Kainen, Agincourt, 1988 AAM 2016.018

#2: Caption: Joyce Tenneson, Two Women, 1994 Digital print AAM 2016.027.