We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.



Why would anyone spend three hours reviewing the life of a little-remembered 20th-century American artist? If that artist is the subject of Frederick Lewis’ new documentary, Rockwell Kent, the answers are myriad. Kent was a painter, illustrator, and writer, an architect, builder, and activist—as well as a philanderer, malcontent, and practical joker. Although Lewis’ film is conventionally structured—mostly stills and talking heads, supervised by the customary omniscient narrator—it’s never dull, for the simple reason that Kent never was. A devotee of the iconoclastic Nietzsche, who rejected the iconoclasm of Duchamp, Kent was brilliance laced with trouble. “A man who could do anything,” he was always on the move, driven to explore and depict remote and usually frigid quarters of the world. When Kent sets off for Alaska or Tierra del Fuego, this documentary isn’t an artist’s bio at all—it’s an adventure story. The film screens at 2 p.m. in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799.