Born in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Studies drawing with Kimon Nicolaides, Art Students League.
Attends Art Students League. Made his first prints, drypoint on aluminum plates.
Attends Pratt Institute School of Art.
Expelled from Pratt three weeks before graduation for rebelling against revamped curriculum emphasizing commercial art.
Rents studio in Greenwich Village, meets Stuart Davis, Willem De Kooning, Adolf Dehn, John Graham, and Arshile Gorky, who paints Kainen’s portrait.
Advised by Stuart Davis to join WPA Graphic Arts Division, paint on his own time.
Works for WPA Graphic Arts Division and learns lithography, etching and other media; enjoys and excels at printmaking.
Organizes New York Group with Jules Halfant and Herbert Kruckman; they invite Alice Neel, Louis Nisonoff, Herman Rose, Max Schnitzler, and Joseph Vogel to join. Group exhibits at A.C.A. Galleries.
One man exhibition, A.C.A. Galleries.
Receives diploma from Pratt Institute (dated 1930).
Accepts position with the Division of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian Institution’s U.S. National Museum and moves to Washington, D.C.
Placed on Ad Reinhardt’s “Tree of Modern American Art” (published in PM Magazine).
Turns to organic abstraction in drawing; paints his first totally nonrepresentational paintings. Meets Kenneth Noland.
His abstractions become more gestural, with emphasis on shape-making and spatial ambiguity. Begins giving weekly tutorials to Gene Davis, which continues until 1957.
Painting retrospective, arranged by Kenneth Noland, Catholic University. Abstract Paintings, Dupont Circle Gallery (Washington, D.C.).
Recent Abstract Paintings, Grand Central Moderns, New York City.
Washington, D.C. solo exhibitions: Jefferson Place Gallery, Esther Stuttman, Hom Gallery; New York: Roko Gallery.
Takes early retirement from the Smithsonian and concentrates full time on his own work.
Recent Paintings, Pratt Manhattan Center.
Three Contemporary Printmakers, National Collection of Fine Arts.
Recent Paintings, Phillips Collection.
Recent Paintings, Lunn Gallery.
Prints, A Retrospective, National Collection of Fine Arts, catalog titled Prints: A Retrospective, fully illustrated, with foreword and checklist by Janet A. Flint; shown also at Baltimore Museum of Art, University of Pittsburgh, University of Oregon.
Jacob Kainen: Four Decades: Paintings, New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, catalog with foreword by Michael Sundell.
Paintings from the Collection, National Collection of Fine Arts, simultaneously with paintings from the collection plus two recent paintings, Phillips Collection, and monotypes, Lunn Gallery: celebrating Kainen’s 70th birthday.
Recent Paintings, Phillips Collection, catalog with foreword by Charles Parkhurst.
Two-man exhibition, Jacob Kainen and George McNeil, Lunn Gallery.
Recent Paintings: Martha White Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky, and
Middendorf Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Celebrates 80th birthday at a National Gallery of Art reception and exhibition of his prints and drawings in the collection and also at a reception at the Washington Project for the Arts.
Recent Paintings, Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Jacob Kainen, painting retrospective, National Museum of American Art, curated by Walter Hopps, fully illustrated catalog.
Jacob Kainen, New Work, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.
Jacob Kainen, Paintings from 1951, 52 & 53, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C., fully illustrated catalog.
Jacob Kainen, Katherina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY.
Jacob Kainen, Paintings on Paper, 1950-1995, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.
Dies in Chevy Chase, Maryland.