One of midcentury America’s most innovative artists, Adaline Kent’s work is brought to light for the first time in over 60 years in this retrospective exhibition now on display at the Nevada Museum of Art. Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity features 120 works that chart major thematic developments as her work progressed from figuration to abstraction. Encompassing a diverse range of media, the exhibition includes drawings, original pictures incised on Hydrocal (a type of plaster), sculptures both large and small, and a rarely seen collection of terracottas.

Growing up in the shadow of northern California’s Mt. Tamalpais, Kent’s love for the natural world would be one she shared with her husband, artist Robert B. Howard. Self-admitted “addict[s] of the High Sierra,” they spent summers and winters exploring that mountainous landscape, and their adventures were reflected in her rugged, angular aesthetic.

Although not widely known today, Kent’s work was featured prominently in key exhibitions of the 1940s and ’50s at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Bienal de São Paulo, as well as the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York.

She was a peer of Ruth Asawa, Isamu Noguchi, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still, and was a member of the highly productive San Francisco Bay Area artistic circle that featured the likes of Charles H. Howard, Madge Knight, John Langley Howard, Robert Boardman Howard, Henry Temple Howard, and Jane Berlandina.

The exhibition’s title originates from the artist herself. Known to fill notebooks with detailed descriptions of her artistic aspirations, Kent proclaimed, “I want to hear the click of authenticity,” in one poetic passage from 1956 entitled “Classic Romantic Mystic.” It was a yearning that propelled her work to original and astounding heights.

Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity is on view through September 10, 2023, at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada.

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