W. Langdon Kihn (1898-1957). An artist “whose interests in the Indian is not in so much that of beauty as that of truth”.
Peyton Boswell, the art critic and founder of The Art Digest (“America’s news magazine of”) art was asked to write a preface to a program for an exhibition in May 1923, at the Ainslie Galleries at 677, Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Entitled “American Indians of Canada”, the exhibition was the second that Wilfred (or William) Langdon Kihn had put on at the venue. He was just 25.
Boswell the art critic positively gushed.
“And now comes along a young artist, W. Langdon Kihn, who in a period of three years has established himself as a distinct “school” by himself, differing from all other “schools’ of Indian painting; and who, besides stirring the admiration of the art world for the pure beauty of his work, has earned the plaudits of a much more exacting audience – one composed of scientists and ethnologists, whose interests in the Indian is not in so much that of beauty as that of truth. The work of this artist in the last three years, among various tribes of our North American aborigines, has been hailed by the authorities as something of lasting import, for the reason that it constitutes a faithful and spirited artistic transcription of a people and a life now swiftly passing from the world’s stage.”
W. Langdon Kihn’s work had that kind of effect back then.
Credits : Wellcome Collection; Jacob’s Pillow Dance archives; “Exhibition : portraits of American Indians of Western Canada together with Doukhobors of Columbia Valley, Blackfeet Indians of Montana, Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, a few guides and trailmen, and some landscapes.” (1923) by W. Landgdon Kihn.
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