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On the Farm (recto); The Gettysburg Address (verso)

John Kane (American, 1860–1934)

Before 1931

Medium oil on Masonite, double sided Measurements H: 22 3/8 x W: 24 1/2 in. (56.83 x 62.23 cm) Credit Gift of the McGivern Family Accession Number 2005.66.1.A-.B Location Gallery 11, Scaife Galleries

Artist Bio

John Kane, who had worked as a manual laborer all his life, catapulted to fame when his naively rendered canvas Scene from the Scottish Highlands (59.11.1) (c. 1927) was admitted to the Carnegie International exhibition of 1927. The painting was accepted at the insistence of Andrew Dasburg, a modernist who had rejected his early training under Kenyon Cox and developed a Cubist manner derived from the work of Cézanne and Picasso. At this time the pictorial effects of folk art were still associated with those of modernism, and Dasburg, in his discovery of Kane, created an American parallel to Picasso's role in promoting the work of the French folk painter Henri Rousseau.

Many believed Kane's inclusion in the 1927 International was an elaborate hoax, but the success that it brought to Kane continued in the few years that remained to him before his death from tuberculosis in 1934. His paintings were not only exhibited at successive Internationals, but were also shown at Harvard, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Modern Art. Within three years of his first recognition he had sold works to such notables as Mrs. John D. Rockefeller and John Dewey, chairman of the department of philosophy at Columbia University. Ironically, today the once well-known work of Andrew Dasburg has dropped into relative obscurity, while that of Kane is still prominently displayed in such institutions as The Museum of Modern Art.