Following a trip to Russia in 1972, Jacob Kainen returned to his studio with a renewed perspective on making art. Exposure to 15th century Icon paintings during his travels profoundly expanded his spiritual understanding of painting and drove him to more thoroughly explore Abstract Expressionist concepts. This exploration manifested in a juxtaposition of more natural forms with geometric shapes. Despite the pared-down geometric forms, there is nothing simple about the paintings of this period. Kainen’s forms vibrate on the canvas with perceivable brushstrokes overlapped by soft-edged shapes. Upon close inspection they are richly layered, carefully composed, and deeply intellectual. This exhibition showcases paintings on canvas from 1980 - 87.
Jacob Kainen (1909 - 2001) was an American painter and printmaker. Born in Waterbury, CT, he spent his early years in New York City. He moved to Washington, DC in 1942, taking a position as the first curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian Institution. As a young artist, he studied at the Art Students League and at the Pratt Institute. In the 1930s he was employed by the Graphic Arts division of the WPA Federal Art Project, and was a member of the American Artists’ Congress. His work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Yale University Museum, New Haven, CT and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY among others. The Estate of Jacob Kainen is represented by Hemphill Fine Arts.