Earl Kerkam Paintings

American artist Earl Kerkam was "a painter of enormous poetic awareness, self-directed, almost totally without influence, he stands as an original American artist in the best sense"- Gerald Norland, 1966.

Head, 1962, oil on paperboard, 15.375" 11.25". Hirshhorn Museum

Self Portrait #2, 1955, oil on board, 24" x 15". Wright Auctions, sold 2003

Head, 1963, oil on board, 21.75" x 18.75". via

Head, 1960, oil on canvas-board, 29.75" x 24.75". Smithsonian American Art Museum

Head, c. 1960's, oil on board, 28" x 21.75". Stair Galleries, sold 2009

Untitled (head), oil on cardboard, 26" x 23". via

Self Portrait, 1963, 14" x 11". via

Self Portrait, c. 1950's, oil on canvas, 28" x 22". LSD Art $4,600 at time of post

Untitled, oil on board, 21.375" x 19.5". Doyle New York, 2009

Torso, 1955, oil on masonite, 32.5" x 19.5". Doyle New York, sold 2007

Earl Kerkam in his studio. Archives of American Art

Kerkam shirtless in his studio, 1950's. via
General Information:
Artist: Earl Cavis Kerkam
Nationality: American
Birth: Washington, D.C., October 7, 1891
Death: New York City, January 12, 1965 (73 years old)
Education: Studied at several schools including, Art Students League and Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.

Points of Interest:
• In the 1920's he designed posters for Warner Brothers, earning a whopping $20K, equal to ≈ $250K today.
• He was good friends with Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning.
• After Kerkam was evicted from his NYC studio, Franz Kline offered him to share his studio.
• Franz Kline once said when speaking of Kerkam, "Earl could paint in a telephone booth."
• After his death a group of artists including, Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning drafted a letter to the Museum of Modern Art of New York requesting that they hold an Kerkam exhibition stating, "Kerkam in our eyes is one of the finest Painters to come out of America...and as working artists we could afford the stimulation such an exhibition would provide us."

Kerkam Quotes:
• "I can't speak French, but I can paint French."
• "Painting a woman who won't take her clothes off is like interviewing a woman who won't tell the truth."
• When a heiress knocked at his studio apartment door with a $1,000 in hand to have her portait painted, Kerkam looked her up and down through a crack in the door and said, "You're too pretty. Go away."
• At his retrospective exhibit in 1963, when asked where all the people were? He replied, "They'll come when I die. I am not a fashionable man."

Related Links:
Go to- an article about Earl Kerkam, with a lot of great anecdotes about the artist.
Go to- section in the book New Art City: Manhattan at Mid Century about Kerkam (see pp 171-177).
Go to- Flickr set of Kerkam's work

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