Profile: Richard Gordon Kendall (1933-2008)

Richard Gordon Kendall was an American self-taught artist who, beginning around 1995, began to be chronicled as an outsider artist – in a folk artist.



Kendall was discovered around 1995 by Jay Wehnert, a curator and collector of outsider art, who became an advocate of Kendall’s works. According to Wehnert and other art critics, Kendall’s works exhibit extraordinary use of mediums, given that, from about 1995 to about 1998, he was living in makeshift shelters on the streets of Houston. One of Wehnert’s objectives was to give Kendall notable recognition as an artist – which Kendall eluded. Wehnert lost contact with Kendall in 1998 and Kendall died in 2008. As recent as 2019, Kendall’s works have been exhibited by the Dutton Gallery of New York.

When Wehnert “discovered” Kendall, the two began corresponding – until about 1998. Kendall was living on the streets of Houston. Kendall told Wehnert that he made drawings of the city’s architecture to keep himself “sharp.”

Growing up

Richard Gordon Kendall was born November 17, 1933, in Paris, Texas, to Lenious Kendall (aka Linnius “Bud” Kindell; 1886–1968) and Myrl Reynolds (1895–1973). His original birth certificate gave his name as Charles Gordon Kendall. But his mother filed a corrected birth certificate, sworn and subscribed August 12, 1944, re-stating his birth name as Richard Gordon Kendall.

Kendall graduated in 1954 from Gibbons High School – a segregated high school for African Americans in Paris, Texas, which finally closed in 1966. Kendall was on the 1953–1954 basketball that won the Prairie View Conference AA State Championship. In the 1990s, Kendall lived at 769 Ash Street in Paris.

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