Kenneth Nack Biography

Kenneth Nack

American

1923-2009

Biography

Kenneth George Nack, painter, printmaker, collage and mixed media artist, muralist, and teacher, was born in Chicago on 14 January 1923. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1941 to 1943. In 1942, he won the Kuppenheimer Scholarship in the School and, in 1943, he was awarded the Clyde M. Carr Prize at the 47th Annual Exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. He served in the United States Army between 1943 and 1946 but still managed to exhibit work in the Artists of Chicago and Vicinity annuals in 1944, 1945, and 1946. At the 49th annual exhibition in 1945 Nack's oil, West of the Near North Side, was awarded the William H. Bartels Prize.

After his discharge from the Army, Nack returned to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received his master's degree in fine arts in 1949. In 1947 he won an award at the Pepsi-Color Fourth Annual Exhibition, Paintings of the Year, and a prize at the Old Northwest Territory Art Exhibition held at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Nack joined Harold Zussin for a two-person show at the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 1948. He also exhibited in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts annual exhibitions between 1947 and 1953, and his work was included in the 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953 annual exhibitions Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. After 1949, Nack moved to Paris, where he studied with Fernand Léger. In 1950, he was featured in LIFE magazine as one of the nineteen best young American painters.

Nack's early work was inspired by his environment and he created abstract interpretations, most notably of Chicago’s urban areas. He traveled extensively in Mexico and Europe and ran a gallery in San Francisco before he finally settled in Santa Barbara, California. He taught at Santa Barbara City College where he was Chair of the Art Department for thirty-five years. 

Kenneth Nack died in Santa Barbara, California on December 12, 2009.