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Professional Chronology

  • 1909
    Born in Waterbury, Connecticut.
  • 1926
    Studies drawing with Kimon Nicolaides, Art Students League.
  • 1927-30
    Attends Pratt Institute School of Art.
  • 1930
    Expelled from Pratt three weeks before graduation for rebelling against revamped curriculum emphasizing commercial art.
  • 1934
    Rents studio in Greenwich Village, meets Stuart Davis, Willem De Kooning, Adolf Dehn, John Graham, and Arshile Gorky, who paints Kainen’s portrait.
  • 1935
    Advised by Stuart Davis to join WPA Graphic Arts Division, paint on his own time.
  • 1938-39
    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.
  • 1940
    One man exhibition, A.C.A. Galleries.
  • 1942
    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.
  • 1946
    Placed on Ad Reinhardt’s “Tree of Modern American Art” (published in PM Magazine).
  • 1949
    Turns to organic abstraction in drawing; paints his first totally nonrepresentational paintings. Meets Kenneth Noland.
  • 1950

    His abstractions become more gestural, with emphasis on shape-making and spatial ambiguity. Begins giving weekly tutorials to Gene Davis, which continue until 1957.

  • 1952
    Painting retrospective, arranged by Kenneth Noland, Catholic University. Abstract Paintings, Dupont Circle Gallery (Washington, D.C.).
  • 1953
    Recent Abstract Paintings, Grand Central Moderns, New York City.
  • 1956-70
    Washington, D.C. solo exhibitions: Jefferson Place Gallery, Esther Stuttman, Hom Gallery; New York: Roko Gallery.
  • 1970
    Takes early retirement from the Smithsonian and concentrates full time on his own work.
  • 1972

    Recent Paintings, Pratt Manhattan Center.

  • 1973

    Three Contemporary Printmakers, National Collection of Fine Arts.
    Recent Paintings, Phillips Collection.

  • 1975

    Recent Paintings, Lunn Gallery.

  • 1976-78

    Print 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.

    Painting Retrospective, New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, catalog with foreword by Michael Sundell.

  • 1979-80

    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.

  • 1980-81

    Recent Paintings, Phillips Collection, catalog with foreword by Charles Parkhurst.

  • 1981-82

    Two-man exhibition, Jacob Kainen and George McNeil, Lunn Gallery.

  • 1983-90

    Recent Paintings: Martha White Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky; and Middendorf Gallery, Washington, D.C.

  • 1989

    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.

  • 1991

    Recent Paintings, Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, D.C.

  • 1993

    Jacob Kainen, painting retrospective, National Museum of American Art, curated by Walter Hopps, fully illustrated catalog.

  • 1997

    Jacob Kainen, New Work, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.

  • 1999

    Jacob Kainen, Paintings from 1951, 52 & 53, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C., fully illustrated catalog.

  • 2000

    Jacob Kainen, Katherina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY.

  • 2001

    Jacob Kainen, Paintings on Paper, 1950-1995, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.

  • 2001

    Dies in Chevy Chase, MD.

  • 2002

    Jacob Kainen, Space & Color, Paintings from 1970-1990, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington D.C.

  • 2005

    The Lure of Abstraction: Prints by Jacob Kainen, Cincinnati Art Museum.

  • 2006

    Jacob Kainen, Figurative Paintings, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington D.C.

  • 2007

    Abstractions x 4: 1950s – 1980s Prime Work, Jacob Kainen, James Kelly, John Grillo, and Yvonne Thomas, Katherina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY.

  • 2008

    Jacob Kainen: Paintings & Drawings from 1939-1949, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington D.C.

    Local Color: Washington paintings at Midcentury, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (Group Exhibition)

  • 2010

    Jacob Kainen: Geometric Abstractions, The American University Museum, Washington D.C.

    Washington Color and Light, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (Group Exhibition)

  • 2012

    Abstract Drawings, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (Group Exhibition)

  • 2013

    Washington Art Matters: 1940s-1980s, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington D.C. (Group Exhibition)

  • 2014

    Jacob Kainen, 1909-2001, Very Large Monotypes, Pia Gallo, New York, NY.

    Views of Washington, DC: Jacob Kainen’s Residential Facades, Mead Musings, Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, MA.

  • 2016

    Jacob Kainen, Thomas Nozkowski, Sean Scully, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington D.C.

  • 2016-2017

    Jacob Kainen: Washington Colorist, Academy of Art Museum, Easton, MD.

  • 2017

    Jacob Kainen, Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington D.C.

  • 2023

    Jacob Kainen, Hemphill Artworks, Washington D.C.