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THE BIBLIO FILE is a podcast about "the book," and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with best practitioners inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader. Why listen? The hope is that it will help you to read, write, publish, edit, design, and collect better, and improve how you communicate serious, big, necessary, new, good ideas and stories...

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Feb 28, 2023

Scott R Ferris, is a  researcher, writer and specialist in the art of Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). He has conducted many lectures on Kent and has served as curator for a lot of Kent exhibitions.
Here's a thumbnail of Kent culled from what Zoë Samels has written on the U.S. National Gallery website:
He attended the Horace Mann School in New York City where he excelled at mechanical drawing. After graduating he decided to study architecture at Columbia University. In 1905 he moved from New York to Monhegan Island in Maine home to a summer art colony where he found inspiration in the natural world.
He found success exhibiting and selling his paintings in New York and in 1907 was given his first solo show at Claussen Galleries. The following year he married his first wife, Kathleen Whiting, with whom he had five children. 

For the next several decades he lived a peripatetic life, chilling in Connecticut, Maine, and New York. During this time he took  extended voyages to remote, often ice-filled, corners of the globe: Newfoundland, Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland, to which he made three separate trips. For Kent, exploration and artistic production were twinned endeavors. His travels to these rugged, rural locales provided inspiration for both his visual art and his writings. He developed a stark, realist landscape style that expressed both nature’s harshness and its sublimity. Kent’s human figures, which appear sparingly, often signify mythic themes, such as heroism, loneliness, and individualism. Important exhibitions of works from these travels include the Knoedler Gallery’s shows in 1919 and 1920. Kent wrote a number of illustrated memoirs about his adventures abroad, including Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska (1920)
By 1920 he had taken up wood engraving and quickly established himself as one of the preeminent graphic artists of his time. His striking illustrations for two editions of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick—  precise and abstract images that drew on his architect’s eye for spatial relations and his years of maritime adventures—proved extremely popular and remain some of his best-known work. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s his print output included advertisements, bookplates, and Christmas cards. His satirical drawings, created under the pseudonym “Hogarth Jr.,” were published in magazines such as Vanity Fair, Harper’s Weekly, and Life. 

By the onset of World War II, Kent was focusing energy on progressive political causes, including labor rights and preventing the spread of fascism in Europe. Though he never joined the communist party his support of leftist causes made him a target of the State Department which revoked his passport after his first visit to Moscow in 1950 (though Kent successfully sued to have it reinstated). As his reputation declined at home and his work fell out of favor, Kent found new popularity in the Soviet Union, where his works were exhibited frequently in the 1950s. 
I visited Scott at his book-filled home in Boonville, in upstate New York, to trace the arc of Kent's life through the lens of various items in Scott's extensive collection of Kentiana