Event Details

Pittsburgh's John Kane exhibition

The art world has struggled to define John Kane ever since his "discovery" in 1927. The typical labels-industrial artist, primitive, folk artist, outsider-do not do him justice. Pittsburgh's John Kane exhibition aims to present Kane's art on John Kane's terms: "I paint it as God made it and man changed it." His love of nature, his respect for human labor, his acceptance of the supernatural, and his celebration of manual skill, all come together in his paintings. The Heinz History Center will develop these themes through a thoughtful selection of paintings and drawings by the artist, contextualized by documents, objects, and works of art by his contemporaries drawn from our unique regional collection. The aim is to recreate John Kane's visual world and life experience, to explicate his art for a 21st century audience. 

The Heinz History Center will include the loan of two paintings from the Hirshhorn collection at the Smithsonian, Lassie in Kilts and My Daughter and Grandchild in this exhibition. The painting Lassie in Kilts is an anchor piece for the exhibit, exploring Kane's ethnicity and his emblematic 
immigrant story and identity, so much a part of this nation's fabric. Music and dance allowed immigrants to connect to their cultural and ethnic identities, as words and melodies are the easiest things to carry and share through arduous travels and life adventures. Music played many roles in Kane's life and was a favorite subject in his art. The painting My Daughter and Grandchild is one in a grouping of important portraits painted by Kane. The harsh realities of a laborer's life in the early 20th century impacted Kane's physical health, his family life, and his art career in many ways. This piece allows exploration of Kane's family dynamics and the tensions between the spheres of home and work. 


05-19-2022 thru 01-08-2023
Senator John Heinz History Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania