John Kearny

BIOGRAPHY

John Kearny- Download the CV file to read full BIO 

 

John Kearney was a Chicago sculptor who created welded steel sculptures from steel automobile bumpers and in 
bronze. They are primarily animal and figurative forms and are both large and small scale. His works are in major 
museums and collections through USA, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Detroit 
Children's Museum, Ulrich Museum of Wichita State University, Wichita, the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois State
Capital Visitors Center, Springfield, Illinois, Mitchell Museum in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, the City of Chicago in Oz Park
(the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scare Crow and Dorothy and Toto), the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee 
Wisconsin, the Fayetteville Youth center, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Cape 
Cod, among others.

John Kearney was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1924. He received his formal art training at famed Cranbrook 
Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michican after serving four years in he Navy during World War II in the South 
Pacific. He received an Italian Government Grant in 1963-64, through the University per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy, a 
Fulbright Award to Italy in 1963-64, and was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, in 1985, 1992, 
1998, and 2003. He won the Wallace Truman Prize at the National Academy of Design in New York, in 1953 among
other prizes. He has had numerous One Man exhibitions since 1951, in New York City at A.C.A. Gallery 1964 to 
1979, and in 2003/04, the Berta Walker Gallery in Provincetown, Mass., 1992 to 2005, and in Rome and Venice, Italy, 
Chicago, Detroit, Wichita, Wellfleet, Mass., and others. He had major retrospective at the Mitchell Museum in Mt.
Vernon, Illinois in 1994. He has exhibited in Group curated exhibitions in Rome, New York, Santo Domingo, 
Niamey, Nigeria, Indianapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota, Omaha, Nebraska, the Art Institute of Chicago, Taipei, 
Sarasota, Florida and others.

John Kearney was the co-founder of the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago in 1949. The Workshop was a 
highly regarded non-profit Chicago institution, exhibiting young emerging artists and providing affordable studio 
spaces for artists for 60 years. Hundreds of emerging artists had their first exhibitions at the Contemporary Art 
Workshop. He taught and lectured since 1950 and was the guiding spirit over all the years. The Workshop closed 
its unique operation in May 2009 with high praise from the art community and the public.

John Kearney lived in Rome for two years and traveled extensively in Europe. he has traveled to Egypt, the Middle
East, China, Tibet, Southeast Asia and Central America. 

He lived in Chicago and Provincetown, Massachusettes. He was married to Lynn Haigh Kearney for 63 years. He 
passed away on August 10, 2014, a few days before his 90th birthday.

An oral history interview with John Kearney was transcribed for the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art.