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The Cover
January 14, 2004

Self-portrait

Author Affiliations
 

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(2):159. doi:10.1001/jama.291.2.159

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.

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