William Kent Charitable Foundation – Durham, Connecticut - Atlas Obscura

William Kent Charitable Foundation

Durham, Connecticut

The farmhouse where a reclusive sculptor and printmaker created thousands of works. 

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Tucked away in a rural neighborhood of Durham, Connecticut is the former residency of a hermetic, iconoclastic, and extremely unique artist. 

William Kent (c. 1919-2012) moved to this farmhouse in 1964 and began creating prints and wood carvings. Much of his wood carvings depict everyday objects in a surreal fashion, while his prints often contain socially and politically provocative imagery. Kent was also interested in zoomorphic subjects such as insects and fish, as well as phallic imagery. Kent is credited with creating a new form of making prints involving slate.

After his passing in 2012, his studio where he spent most of his days has been preserved by the William Kent Charitable Foundation. It’s dedicated to helping impoverished and indigent artists over 60 years of age, a state Kent often found himself in.

Kent was a figure in the New York pop art scene of the 1960s and was featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibit on leading pop art figures of the 1960s. Kent moved to New Haven where he curated an art gallery before being removed from his position when some of his work was deemed “pornographic.” After this incident, Kent became reclusive, spending most of his time in this farmhouse, carving wood sculptures and creating prints. Kent created roughly 800 wood sculptures and over 2,000 prints, many of which still remain in this house.

Know Before You Go

Tours of the house can be scheduled at the William Kent Foundation website.

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