The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
The life of the American naive painter John Kane (1860-1934) is one
of almost unrelieved tragedy. He left school after third grade, began working
in the shale mines at age nine, lost his father at ten, his leg in a train
accident at age 31, and an infant son when he was 44. He turned to alcohol,
lost several jobs, and finally was separated from his wife and two young daughters.
At age 50 he lost even his family name, Cain, when a bank clerk in Ohio misspelled
it "Kane." Yet the completely self-taught John Kane became the first American
primitive (or more accurately, naive) painter to be recognized and honored
by major museums during his lifetime. He had his first juried exhibit at the
prestigious Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh, the city he called
home. He was 67. It was his third try in as many years.
Southgate MT. Self-portrait. JAMA. 2004;291(2):159. doi:10.1001/jama.291.2.159