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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

Big Inch

Artist: Rockwell Kent (1882 - 1971)
Date: 1941
image: 8 15/16 × 12 5/16 in. (22.7 × 31.3 cm)
Framed: 16 1/4 × 19 3/4 × 1 1/8 in.
Medium: Lithograph
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2012.225
Inscriptions: l.l., in pencil: "Pipe Layers"
Signed: l.r., in pencil: Rockwell Kent
Not on View
Accession Number: 2012.225
ProvenanceDaniel Lebard, Brussels, Belgium; (Catherine E. Burns, Oakland, CA); purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR, 2012
Label TextRockwell Kent created Big Inch as an advertisement for the United States Pipe and Foundry Company, that had provided the materials to create the “Big Inch,” a pipeline connecting the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana with refineries on the East Coast.

Kent was one of the most prolific illustrators in America in the early twentieth century. He was an artist, author, and political activist. He believed in the power of art to communicate and protest because, in his words, "artists, of all people in the world, are most concerned with life."

Although Kent was a working artist before the Great Depression, he was negatively affected by the economic crisis. Kent not only felt compelled to use his artistic talents to depict the causes he believed in, but he also needed artistic commissions to survive.