Kenneth Kendall (1921-2006) was a self-taught portrait painter and sculptor in West Hollywood, CA. He was born and raised in Los Angeles by a creative family that encouraged his talents. His father was a theatrical agent and vaudevillian, his mother was the sister of silent film actress Patty DuPont. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1940 and served two years in the US Navy. Kendall then worked as an extra in many films, including “Citizen Kane”, “The Story of G.I. Joe”, “Julius Caesar” and “Knights of the Round Table”.
Kendall maintained his art studio on Melrose Avenue and later, on Flores Street. He is best known for his bronze bust of James Dean that resides on the grounds of the Griffith Observatory with the iconic Hollywood sign as a backdrop. Dean saw a bust of his hero Marlon Brando in Kendall’s studio window and asked the artist to create one of him. As the story goes, Kendall began sculpting on the evening of Dean’s death, September 30th, 1955.
During the late 1960’s Kendall was a regular on the vibrant Sunset Strip where he befriended many eccentric characters. His studio became a haven for both established circles and counterculture figures alike. During this exciting time Kendall began to create his finest and most delicate work, his porcelain miniatures. The miniatures were made with hand ground pigments painted on porcelain plaques then fired in a kiln at temperatures exceeding 1200 degrees. Each piece was fired multiple times as details were added. He often gifted his miniatures to the models, including Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Tennessee Williams and Maila “Vampira” Nurmi.
Kenneth Kendall exhibited at the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers in London and was included in Daphne Foskett’s book “Collecting Miniatures”.