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Tue, 12.12.1933

Kenneth Young, Artist born

Kenneth Young

*Kenneth Young was born on this date in 1933. He was a Black artist, educator, and designer.

Kenneth Victor Young was born in Louisville, Kentucky. In the 1950s, Young served in the United States Navy. He attended the University of Louisville to study design and physics, followed by additional study at Indiana University and the University of Hawai'i. While attending the University of Louisville, he met fellow students Sam Gilliam, G. Caliman Coxe, and Bob Thompson.  


Young briefly worked at DuPont chemical in Louisville and moved in 1964 to become the first Black exhibit designer at Smithsonian Institution. He worked in the evenings as a United States Information Agency designer. He was able to travel during this time of his career, visiting Egypt, Italy, and Africa. There are conflicting dates for when Young started his painting career. By 1960, he had dedicated himself to painting. His first museum solo exhibit was Ken Young: Recent Paintings (1974) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

He worked at the Smithsonian Institution as an exhibit designer for 35 years. Young's paintings were abstract and often featured multiple colored wash strokes. His paintings were large-scale in acrylic paint, very bright and colorful. Some of the titles of his paintings are referenced jazz music. He taught art at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

He is associated with the Washington Color School art movement. Kenneth Victor Young died in Washington, D.C, on March 12, 2017. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Young's work was once part of the historic Johnson Publishing Company art collection. The Johnson Publishing Company art collection consisted of 75 African American artists' artwork that had once hung in the offices, but due to bankruptcy, the artworks went to auction in 2020.

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