Cox, Kenyon (1856-1919) by Aveilhe, Tara

Kenyon Cox was an American painter, lecturer, poet, and art critic born in Warren, Ohio. He began his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and went on to study under and in Paris from 1877 to 1882. When he returned to the U.S., Cox opened his own studio and became a successful teacher at the Art Student’s League in New York. , , and were among his best-known pupils. Kenyon Cox Carolus Duran J. L. Gérôme Georgia O’Keefe Charles Hopkinson Andrew Dasburg Cox himself painted in a realistic mode and was known for his landscapes, portraits, and allegorical murals. According to his biographer , Cox believed in an art that (208). Cox gained a reputation as a classicist, and he wrote several books in which he argued against new movements in art and advocated what he termed He was the author of the critical reviews, (1905), (1907), (1911), (1914), and (1917). During his career, Cox contributed articles and essays on art subjects to various magazines, writing the monthly “Field of Art” feature for as well as publishing in the and . He also made a living illustrating magazines and books. Howard Wayne Morgan helped unify and stabilize society through attachments to tradition the classic point of view. Old Masters and New Painters and Sculptors The Classic Point of View Artist and Public Concerning Painting Scribner’s Magazine Nation Century In his lecture titled Cox warned the American art audience against confusing change for progress, claiming (Morgan 216). Despite his criticism of modern art, Cox consistently emphasized his belief that classicism did not necessarily exclude innovation, famously stating, The Illusion of Progress, it was scarce two years since we first heard of ‘Cubism’ when the ‘Futurists’ were calling the ‘Cubists’ reactionary It desires that each new presentation of truth and beauty shall show us the old truth and the old beauty, seen only from a different angle and colored by a different medium. It wishes to add link by link to the chain of tradition, but it does not wish to break the chain. (Morgan 208) In his most comprehensive pronouncement against the moderns, published in in April 1914, Cox argued that the audience had a right to demand that art be that artists had a responsibility (Morgan 221). Artist and Public, Scribner’s Magazine both human and humane, to speak for more than the self In addition to his popular criticism, Cox wrote and published poetry. Lines from his poem, were included in the popular reference work . Summarizing his idealized vision of the artist’s role in culture, Cox wrote: (Morgan 112). The Gospel of Art, Bartlett’s Quotations Work though for pleasure; paint or sing or carve / The thing thou lovest, thou the body starve In 1892 he married his student (1865-1945). Together they created the murals that decorated the Liberal Arts Building at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During his career, Cox was commissioned to create several public works, including the frieze for the courtroom of the Appellate Court, New York City, and decorations for the Walker Art Gallery, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, as well as for the capitol at St. Paul, Minnesota. Cox was awarded an honorary M.A. from Yale in 1910 and a Litt. D. from Oberlin in 1912 for his literary contributions. He was a member of the Society of American Artists, the National Academy of Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His son, (1896-1982), also became a successful muralist. Louise Howland King Allyn Cox Following his death in 1919, eulogized Cox in , stating: Frank Mather Scribner’s Magazine He was an embodied conservative conscience, a stalwart and dreaded champion of the great traditions of painting . . . a dangerous critic of successive new schools and fads, a formidable foe of every sort of sloppiness. The times were fairly sloppy, so he was not popular. (Morgan 243) Despite Mather’s estimation of Cox’s waning popularity, his essays on the history of art, particularly nineteenth-century Naturalism, still remain in print. Further Reading Cox, Kenyon. 55.4 (April 1914): 512-20. Artist and Public. Scribner’s Magazine Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Collections Online: Kenyon Cox. Kenyon and Louise Cox Papers Online. . Ohio: Kent State UP. 1994. Morgan, Howard Wayne Kenyon Cox: 1856-1919: A Life in American Art.

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