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 John William Kennedy  (1903 - 1996)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Florida/Ohio      Known for: landscape, cityscape, Indian figure and genre painting

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John William Kennedy
Wellfleet Oyster Shacks
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

J. William Kennedy (b. 1903, Cincinnati, Ohio-d.1996, Clearwater, Florida)

He was a graduate of the Cincinnati Art Academy and Carnegie Tech, a Fellow of the Tiffany Foundation in New York and received his Masters Degree from The University of Illinois.  J. William Kennedy had a long and prolific painting and teaching career. 

His early years were spent painting at the artist meccas of the Nineteen Twenties.  In those times of challenging travel, he had studios in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Paris and Concarneau, France, Taormina, Sicily, Taos, New Mexico and Manitou Springs, Colorado.  For work in the US, he carried canvasses and supplies cross country in his early Chevy.  Europe was reached by steamship and traveled by train.  He crossed France by bicycle.  Canvasses were carried rolled.

Mr. Kennedy was a Professor of Art at the University of Illinois, teaching there for forty four years.  In Illinois he was known for his landscapes, still lives and portraits, including the Presidents of several universities.  In addition to graduate painting, he taught freehand drawing to architects and shop courses in media formulation and frame making.  Many of the frames for his more traditional paintings were personally hand carved or gold or silver leafed.  For many years he summered at Cape Cod in the fishing village of Wellfleet, where he founded the Kennedy School of Art.  Here he painted outside with his students, exhibited locally, took part in the Provincetown art scene, and was a Lifetime Member of the Provincetown Art Association.  His paintings of area waterfronts and fishing boats are prized by eastern collectors.

After retiring from teaching, he wintered in Clearwater, Florida.  While Mr. Kennedy was an accomplished technical painter, his later years were spent intensely exploring abstraction and developing new media.  He invented Permanent Pigments non yellowing Pastose White oil paint and several acrylic variants, including textured underpainting.  He actively painted until the age of eighty eight.

Museum exhibitions have included:
The Corcoran Museum, Washington, D.C.
The Virginia Museum, Richmond
Cincinnati Art Museum
Toledo Art Museum
Pennsylvania Academy, Philadelphia
Milwaukee Art Institute
Kansas City Art Museum
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
Provincetown Art Museum, Provincetown, MA
Three National Exhibitions of American Painting in Rockefeller Center, New York.
Seven one man exhibitions in Cincinnati

Large retrospective exhibitions have been held at:
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, IL
Swansborough Gallery, Wellfleet, MA
Florida West Coast Art Center, Bellair, FL

Publication of his work has included:
Art Digest
Unterwegs (West Germany)

He has been included in articles in:
Time Magazine
Many American newspapers.

Some one hundred and eighty paintings are currently in private collections.

Information provided by the artist's son, Robert Kennedy


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