Kenneth Stubbs (1907-1967)
Some people ask what my objective is in painting. I prefer to think I have a position and a direction, rather than an objective. My position is based on a belief in the tradition of good painting as practiced by the Masters. My direction is based on the development and change that occur in my ideas about nature and life.
To be more specific, I feel that the structure of my painting is based on tradition – while the content is based on ideas. Where these two things – tradition and idea – meet in the form of my painting, they become real. First of all, the forms are real to me. Where they also say something, so much the better. If a modern statement is the result, it is modern simply because my interests are modern.
The fact that many of my paintings are concerned with flat or semi-flat patterns that depart more or less from the appearance of nature is simply a matter of style. This style comes from the need to have the entire painting, rather than the separate objects, express the idea. The fact that my watercolors and drawings are more nearly a reflection of nature is a matter of relaxed observation.
I hope this statement will add something to the understanding of my work and my attitude toward art.
As you know, artists always get into trouble when they write about their work. I hope that my paintings and drawings are better examples of my work than my written words are.
Letter to Florence Berryman, Art Critic, The Washington Star, January 10, 1955
Kenneth Stubbs was born in 1907 in Ochlocknee, Georgia. A lifelong artist, who began molding figures from Georgia clay in his early childhood, Kenneth Stubbs was strongly influenced by the Modernists in his late teens and twenties, then particularly by Cubists such as Juan Gris and Georges Braque. He had a deep interest in the Golden Section as the ideal proportion and devoted himself to analyzing its use by the masters through the centuries and to applying it to his own compositions. His paintings focused also on conveying a sense of motion in paintings characterized by cubist representation, largely with straight lines and color.
As one art critic put it,…
“the human intelligence is everywhere at work and it is heartening to see art in which this still a factor”
As Kenneth Stubbs put it,
“…the structure of my painting is based on tradition–while the content is based on ideas. Where these two things–tradition and idea–meet in the form of my painting, they become real…..the forms are real to me. Where they also say something, so much the better. if a modern statement is the result, it is modern simply because my interests are modern.
“The fact that many of my paintings are concerned with flat or semi-flat patterns that depart more or less from the appearance of nature is simply a matter of style. This style comes from the need to have the entire painting, rather than the separate objects, express the idea. The fact that my watercolors and drawings are more nearly a reflection of nature is a matter of relaxed observation.”
Born July 13, 1907, Ochlocknee, Georgia
Died October 20, 1967, Washington, D.C.
Corcoran School of Art. Washington, D.C.1926 to 1930
Webster School of Art, Provincetown, Massachusetts, June-October 1931 and 1934
Wicker School of Art, Detroit Michigan, June-October 1933
Academia della Bella Arte, Florence, Italy, January- April 1950
Advertising art, Detroit, Michigan 1932-1935. Included painting billboards, e.g. one for Chicken-of-the-Sea
Instructor/Professor, Painting and Drawing, Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. 1935-1953
Professor of Art, George Washington University, D.C. 1941-1953
Free lance artist, self-employed, 1937-1942
United States Navy, 1942-1945
Films: story board artist, script writer and director of films for industry and the Federal Government, specializing in design and planning of animation films, 1945-1967
Art Career And Works
Some 15 one-man shows, chiefly in the Washington, D.C. and Cape Cod areas, including Acme Fine Art, Marin-Price Galleries, Franz Bader Gallery, Whyte Gallery
Exhibited extensively and actively in DC and Cape Cod areas, including Corcoran, Baltimore Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Provincetown Art Museum
Represented in numerous collections
Took pride in fact that his paintings and drawings were acquired by people in all walks of life
Murals on history of United States Army and its equipment and on children’s classics
Illustrated Edward Lasker’s 1951 book, Chess Secrets, with numerous portraits of the great chess masters
Awards and Honors
National and International Awards for film work
1946-1947 Venice Film Festival Award
Memorial Endowments at Provincetown Art Association Museum, Corcoran School of Art, Fine Arts Work Center and Colquitt County Community Art Center
National Honor Society
Boy Scouts (Star Scout — 37 merit badges)
Capital City Chess Club
Washington Chess Divan
American Go Association
Washington Board of Trade
Washington Water Color Club
Washington Landscape Club
Artists Guild of Washington, Treasurer
Society of Washington Artists, Executive Committee, V.P.
Alumni Association of the Corcoran School (founder and first president)
The Beachcombers, Provincetown, MA
Provincetown Art Association, life member
Married October 1948
Member, Provincetown Beachcombers, 1938-1967
Summer residence in Provincetown last decade of his life
Journeyman rank chess player, played in numerous tournaments
Early American player of Go, beginning in 1940’s when he taught himself enough Japanese to read Go magazines, the only literature on the game then available
Prolific writer of humor and historical works and lectures on art history, theory, analysis and practice
Wrote and illustrated unpublished book on the naval history of the Civil War
Filmed Piero della Francesca’s mural The Golden Legend in Arezzo, Italy