Categorized | Featured, Obits

Artist, historian and author Herb Kane dies (1928-2011)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7

The artist Herb Kane. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

The artist Herb Kane. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Herb Kane, world-renowned Hawaii artist, historian and author, died Tuesday, March 8, Hawaii 24/7 has learned. Kane, who recently had been ill, was 82.

Kane lived with his wife, Deon, in South Kona.

In September 2010, Kane spoke with Hawaii 24/7 during the unveiling of a new display of his paintings at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Selected as a Living Treasure of Hawaii in 1984, Kane summed up his nearly 60 year career this way:

“I’m very intrigued by history, as we all should be,” he said. “If my art can contribute to the comprehension and understanding of Hawaii’s past, I have succeeded.”

Drawing his inspiration from past generations of Hawaiians, Kane said he could not claim a favorite work.

“They are all my children,” he said. “What parent can pick just one favorite?”

Every brushstroke and every word has brought and will forever bring wisdom, beauty, inspiration and understanding. -Herbert Kawainue Kane

Born in 1928, Kane spent his childhood in Waipio Valley, Hilo and Wisconsin. After Navy service, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at the University of Chicago.

His life’s work included stints in advertising art, publishing art, architectural design, painting, writing and sculpture, but he is best known for his vast collection of historically accurate, epic and iconic paintings of ancient Hawaiian scenes. His paintings are packed with detail and emotion, flair and finesse.

His client list includes scads of private collectors around the world, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the National Park Service, National Geographic, and major publishers of books and periodicals.

His art has appeared on seven postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, as well as stamps for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and French Polynesia.

Books he authored include “Pele, Goddess of Hawaii’s Volcanoes,” “Voyagers” and “Ancient Hawaii.”

Kane served as the voyaging canoe Hokulea’s first captain. The honor came in 1975 after he helped research, design and build the sailing canoe Hokulea.

Among Kane’s many other honors:

  • 1987 — Year of the Hawaiian Celebration. One of 16 chosen as Pookela (Champion).
  • 1988-1992 — Served as a founding trustee of the Native Hawaiian Culture & Arts Program, a federal program at Bishop Museum.
  • 1998 — Awarded Bishop Museum’s Charles Reed Bishop Medal.
  • 2002 — Received an award for excellence from The Hawaii Book Publishers Association.
  • 2008 — Awarded an honorary doctorate by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • 2009 — Designed a commemorative stamp for the U.S. Postal Service, celebrating 50 years of Hawaii statehood.

— Find out more:

Akaka mourns the passing of artist Herb Kane

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) issued the following statement today:

“Herb Kane helped the world recognize the history and culture of the Native Hawaiian people through his art.  He showed ancient Hawaiians as they were: explorers, seafarers, trailblazers in land and resource management.  His beautiful portraits displayed on stamps, in National Parks, and in museums continue to inspire people around the world.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Statement by Mayor Billy Kenoi on the passing of Herb Kane

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of our respected and beloved kupuna, Herb Kawainui Kane. His deep respect and reverence for the culture of our islands, reflected by his talent as a world-renown artist, secures his place among history’s most influential Native Hawaiians.

Among his many important accomplishments was his participation in the renaissance of Hawaiian culture and pride through his leadership in the Polynesian Voyaging Society, where he served as captain of the first voyage of the Hokule’a.

Current and future generations of Hawaiians will always owe a debt of gratitude to him. I offer my sincere condolences to his ohana. We have all lost a true Hawaiian treasure.”

One Response to “Artist, historian and author Herb Kane dies (1928-2011)”

  1. Fern Gavelek says:

    Well documented and excellent tribute Karin.


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