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Rockwell Kent (1882–1970)
Save This Right Hand, 1949
color lithograph
39.4 x 27.9 cm (15 1/2 x 11 in.)
The Eliot H. Stanley Collection, Portland, Maine
photographed by Harriet Wise

Eliot Stanley, who collected this poster, remarked: "The 'right hand' of the ILWU was in particular Harry Bridges; his conviction for perjury, which this poster addresses metaphorically, was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953. Kent's poster is a model of the genre: strong metaphor, immediacy, clarity, simplicity, and gut-level communication—so graphic that it makes those who work with their hands wince."

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Biography of Rockwell Kent

Born in Tarrytown, New York, Rockwell Kent attended the Columbia University School of Architecture. While there, he enrolled in night and summer classes at several art schools, studying with distinguished artists such as William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Abbott Handerson Thayer. Kent worked as an architect for a little over a decade, then moved to Maine and supported himself as a manual laborer while painting. His earliest poster designs date to 1917–18, focusing on the choices and sacrifices that must be made during war. They were reproduced from pen, brush, and ink drawings, but he soon began working with woodcuts. Many of Kent's posters used sophisticated symbolism to convey political messages or support social causes.

Kent's paintings and illustrations of Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, Greenland, and other remote locations he had visited won his art great popularity. However, not all of the attention he received was positive. He was often denounced for having voted as a socialist and being affiliated with many causes espoused by communists. Despite his political problems, Kent painted, designed posters, and published six books recounting his travels and family history.

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