Local Sculptor Gone, But His Work Won't Soon Be Forgotten

Longtime Durham resident William Kent (Williamson) passed away on August 16 at the age of 93, leaving behind a unique and highly acclaimed collection of art.


On August 16, Wiliam Kent passed away quietly at his Durham home at the age of 93.

A resident of the town for over 50 years, Kent was a highly acclaimed sculptor, printmaker and musician whose larger-than-life wood-carvings include a white pine sculpture called Reclining Man With Grasshopper that will be auctioned off next month at Nest Egg Auctions in Meriden.

"He was the greatest living wood sculptor," Middlefield resident Marv Beloff said of his friend of over 50 years.

Beloff, 84, who also happens to be an accomplished wood sculptor, has joined three other individuals with close ties to the late-artist to become trustees of the William Kent Charitable Foundation, an organization Kent created in his later years to help indigent artists.

Together, the group is working to save and preserve Kent's artwork, which spans six decades and includes his uniquely "personal, political, erotic, and humorous" slate prints.

Although some of his pieces are on display in museums or owned by private collectors, much of Kent's artwork remains tucked away in his studio in Durham.

"He has created the most incredible life's work," Beloff said. "Just amazing."

Click here to view sculptures by William Kent

Despite having been confined to a wheelchair after having his right leg amputated six years ago, Kent — whose given surname was Williamson — continued to carve wood, some pieces as large as 200 pounds, up until his death.

"He would get up every morning at four and he would work until 12. He would then play the piano for an hour or two hours and he'd live that life seven days a week," Beloff said. "He ate only one meal a day. He grew most of his own food."

With more to tell about his once reclusive friend, Beloff is writing a book about Kent.

"I have a treasure trove of letters from him. He was a recluse for 30 years and I knew him for over 50 years and I lost him for 30 years. When I had a television show on cable I reintroduced myself to him and kind of pulled him out of reclusion," he said.

The foundation has tentatively scheduled a memorial service for Kent at the studio in October. Check back with Patch for details.

Click on the links below to read more about William Kent:

R.I.P., William Kent by Alan Bisbort

Wood Be Master: The Sculptures of William Kent, A Carving Artist by Alan Bisbort

How Prints Got an Artist in Hot Water by Alan Bisbort

Full Obituary

New York Times Obituary

Relevant Irreverence: Prints and Sculpture of William Kent


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