Archive for January 31st, 2014

“Meaning in a painting is derived from quality. It is reciprocal and will return what has been given to it both to its creator and to the beholder, by a multiple combination in visual concept of pattern, color, form, and that undefined intangible which transcends all classifications. My paintings subscribe o no period or school. If they possess that sustaining power of meaning and authenticity which constitute the basic attributes of a work of art, as well as an awareness of the contemporary scene, they will be illustrative of the progressive trends of their time. Their visible concept may ostensibly reveal characteristics of Time and Place, but the roots reach deep into ethnic strains of ancient culture through which the archetype emerges as indicator of the universal and eternal urge toward creation.”

–Peter Krasnow, 1975


Peter Krasnow - Edward Henry Weston (24 Mar 1886- 1 June 1958)  1925While looking up some info on photographer Edward Weston, I came upon this portrait of him, shown here on the left, that really caught my eye.  I loved the colors and stylization. The artist listed as the painter was a name that I was not familiar with, Peter Krasnow.  Doing a bit of research, I stumbled upon another interesting life and body of work, one that evolved greatly over time.

Born in in the Ukraine in 1886, Krasnow learned the art of color mixing from his father who was a decorator.  Krasnow was Jewish and came to the US in 1907, fleeing the pogroms that had been taking place in his native land as well as seeking training as an artist.  He lived first in Boston then moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute.  After graduating in 1916, he and his wife, who he had met in Chicago, moved to New York.

St. Andrew's One Cent Coffee StandHis work at that time was darker in tone, echoing the neighborhoods around their tenement home as well as recalling memories of his native Ukraine.  But Krasnow felt hemmed in by the dark urban landscape and upon the casual recommendation of an art critic, headed west to California in 1922.  He stayed there, except for a short residency in France, for the rest of his life.

In 1923, Krasnow purchased a parcel of land from photographer Edward Weston and built his studio.  Weston became a lifelong friend and Krasnow s0on found himself in a loose knit  group of  avant garde artists.  His palette changed to  lighter and airier colors that infused his landscapes.  After moving to France then returning he began experimenting with abstraction, both in paint and in sculpture, carving wooden totem-like pieces.  It was this work, along with his work as a printmaker, that occupied his career until his death in 1979 in California.

While he is not tremendously well known nor has his work achieved astronomical prices at auction, his impressive body of work work is vibrant and deserving of greater attention.  I really enjoy seeing the course of his work throughout his career, seeing the connection in seemingly disparate styles.  I know that I am glad to have come upon his work and will keep doing some research.

Krasnow  Self Portrait 1925

Peter Krasnow- Self Portrait 1925

Enigma (K-2) Krasnow  Totem Sculpture Krasnow  The River 1959

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