Traditionally a curator directs the growth of a collection through purchases,
exhibitions, and relations with donors. Jacob Kainen, born in 1909, came to the
Smithsonian in 1942 and served as graphic arts curator until 1966. The dual nature of
his career as both artist and curator is reflected in his many contributions. Kainen
trained as a painter at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, and he experimented with printmaking
while employed in the graphics program of the Federal Art Project in the 1930s.
The friendships he developed in the New York art world contributed to his new career
in Washington, enriching the exhibition program and enlarging the print collection.
Kainen's important Smithsonian publications on the color woodcuts of John Baptist
Jackson, the etchings of Canaletto, and the development of the halftone screen reflect
the breadth of his technical and historical knowledge.