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Oral history interview with Jacob Kainen

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Catalog Data

Kainen, Jacob  Search this
Berman, Avis  Search this
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project  Search this
ACA Galleries  Search this
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project  Search this
Pratt Institute  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Graham, John, 1887-1961  Search this
Hayter, Stanley William, 1901-1988  Search this
Lazzari, Pietro, 1898-1979  Search this
Margo, Boris, 1902-1995  Search this
McNeil, George, 1908-1995  Search this
Noland, Kenneth, 1924-2010  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Schnitzler, Max, 1903-  Search this
Solman, Joseph, 1909-2008  Search this
Thomas, Alma  Search this
6 Cassettes (Sound recording, analog.)
108 Pages (Transcript)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
1982 Aug. 10-Sept. 22
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Jacob Kainen conducted 1982 Aug. 10-1982 Sept. 22, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project.
Kainen speaks about his family and educational background; early interest in art; his studies at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute; showing at the ACA Gallery; the community of artists in New York in the late 1930s; writing for ART FRONT; his employment by the graphic arts division of the WPA-FAP in New York; his move to Washington, D.C., in 1942, to work for the Smithsonian Institution; his first marriage to Bertha Friedman and their children; his career in Washinton, D.C. as a curator, painter, printmaker, writer, and teacher; the FBI investigation of his background; and the art scene in Washington, D.C. Kainen also recalls artists he has known including Stuart Davis, Joseph Solman, John Graham, Mark Rothko, Pietro Lazzari, Willem de Kooning, Max Schnitzler, Arshile Gorky, Gene Davis, Alma Thomas, George McNeil, Kenneth Noland, Boris Margo, Stanley Hayter, and Ad Reinhardt. He discusses Mark Rothko's influences, how he "hated the art industry" and was secretive about his art materials. Kainen also recalls encountering Rothko in Provincetown in 1968 and comments on his art and his suicide. Jacob Kainen's wife, Ruth, was also present and contributed her recollections.
Biographical / Historical:
Jacob Kainen (1909-2001) was a painter, printmaker, and curator from Washington, D.C. Studied at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute; died at age 91.
This interview was conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and his Times oral history project, with funding provided by the Mark Rothko Foundation.
Others interviewed on the project (by various interviewers) include: Sonia Allen, Sally Avery, Ben-Zion, Bernard Braddon, Ernest Briggs, Rhys Caparn, Elaine de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Esther Gottlieb, Juliette Hays, Sidney Janis, Buffie Johnson, Louis Kaufman, Jack Kufeld, Katharine Kuh, Stanley Kunitz, Joseph Liss, Dorothy Miller, Betty Parsons, Wallace Putnam, Rebecca Reis, Maurice Roth, Sidney Schectman, Aaron Siskind, Joseph Solman, Hedda Sterne, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente and Ed Weinstein. Each has been cataloged separately.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) -- Interviews  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Printmakers -- Washington (D.C.) -- Interviews  Search this
Sound recordings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art