( 1904 – 2003 )

Joseph Lambert Cain

Art in Inventory

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Born and raised in New Orleans, Jo Cain studied at the Chicago Academy of Art and with Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League in New York. He served as professor of art at the University of Rhode Island and was ultimately named chair of the department. Through the years, he painted a variety of subjects, but the vibrant street life of his native city was a favored and recurrent theme.

Cain's work became increasingly abstract in the 1930s. The apparent flatness of his compositions, together with the sense of movement achieved by the manipulation of overlapping color planes and perspective, are characteristics of a style described in 1939 as "decorative expressionism." Cain's paint is usually thickly applied, and while his dancers, harlequins, and ladies of the evening owe their inspiration to Matisse and other modernists. As one critic of the day observed, Cain's work "has a fresh vision that cannot be clearly traced either to contemporary American or French schools. His world is never dirty, mean or gray, but it is always bright and luminous."

Estate of the artist until 2002

Charleston Renaissance Gallery: Charleston. New Orleans Revisited: The Paintings of Joseph L. Cain, 2003.

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This essay is copyrighted by Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc. and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission.

1451 River Road · Yemassee, SC 29945 · 843.412.8738
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