Karl Kasten was born and raised in San Francisco where his passion for art began at a very early age. While still in elementary school one of his teachers attempted to discipline him for excessive drawing during class but his father rejected the teacher’s overture to discipline Karl and openly supported Karl’s affection for drawing.
During his teen age years he was able to attend the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute). After high school he went on to study art at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). While at UC Berkeley, Kasten became a teaching assistant for Worth Ryder who was considered the father of the Berkeley School and would become Kasten’s mentor. Kasten graduated from the UC Berkeley in 1938 (B.A.) and 1939 (M.S.).
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Kasten started teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) but shortly after his teaching career started World War II erupted and Kasten joined the Army. Working as a camouflage technician and later as an intelligence officer within the engineer corps combat battalion Kasten would earn the rank of captain. In 1996 he was honored by the French government with the medal of the city of Rennes, France for his service during the war.
After WWII Kasten returned to the states seeking a fresh start and took a teaching position in the art department at the University of Michigan. After two years of harsh Michigan winters Karl Kasten returned to San Francisco. From 1949 to 1950 he taught in the art department at San Francisco State University. During the late 1940’s Kasten became a pioneer of printmaking techniques. He would become a well-known expert in the field and in 1950 he established the first printmaking workshop at UC Berkeley. In 1960 Kasten along with Scott Berglin, president of the Berglin Corporation designed and invented the K-B etching press which is still in use today in schools and studios around the world.
In 1951 Karl Kasten attended the prestigious Hans Hofmann School in Provincetown, Massachusetts where many distinguished artists would go on to become world renowned abstract expressionists. Susan Landauer, the biographer of The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, considered Kasten to be the artist who most closely represented the tenets of Hans Hoffman.
During the years 1954 through 1987 Kasten’s paintings were mainly large scale non-objective abstract expressionist works with emphasis on spatial illusion and color relationships. Later in his career his paintings developed into a more hard edge architectural abstract style. Kasten’s personal style would lead him to become one of the leading figures in “The Berkeley School” of abstract expressionism.
Kasten started his influential and long teaching tenure in the art department at UC Berkeley in 1950 and would continue to work there until 1983. Kasten received numerous awards throughout his career and his works have been exhibited around the world and at major public museums, including the Whitney Museum of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco’s M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, France, the Galerie Sho in Tokyo, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Select Major Museums and Exhibitions San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco, CA M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, CA California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, MI Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY New York Public Library, New York, NY Musee des Beaux Arts, Rennes, FranceAuckland City Museum, Ackland, New Zealand Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Education College of Marin, Marin, CA California School of Fine Art, San Francisco, CA University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art, Provincetown, MA The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, CA
Publications 2005 AskART.com Inc. - Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson (Editor). The Artists Bluebook 34,000 North American Artists 2005 Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference: The Gold Edition 2004 Landauer, Susan. San Francisco and Second Wave: The Blair Collection of Bay Area Abstract Expressionism 2004 McGowan, Alison C (Editor). Who's Who in American Art, (25th Edition) 2003 Sherman, Charlotte (Essay). With an Eye and a Passion: Selections from The Marion Collection 2002 Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940 (Two Volumes) 2002 McClelland, Gordon T; Jay T. Last. California Watercolors 1850-1970, An Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary 1999 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor). Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 1999 Landauer, Susan. Breaking Type: The Art of Karl Kasten 1997 Marquis Who's Who. Who's Who in American Art, 1997-1998 1993 Bowker R R. Who's Who in American Art-1993-1994, 20th Edition 1990 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor). The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago (Exhibition catalog) 1989 Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940 1987 Cummings, Paul. Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists (5th Edition) 1986 Jaques Cattell Press. Who's Who in American Art-1986 1986 1985 Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980/An Illustrated History 1985 Krantz, Les. American Artists: An Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporary Americans 1985 McClelland, Gordon T; Jay Last. The California Style Watercolor Artists 1925-1955 1984 Orr-Cahill, Christina. The Art of California Selected Works/ Oakland Museum 1976 Jaques Cattell Press. Who's Who in American Art, 1976 12th Edition 1975 Editor, Smithsonian. Smithsonian Archives of American Art: Checklist of the Collection 1967 Howe, Thomas C. Painters Behind Painters An Exhibition of Central California Artists (Exhibition catalog) 1958 Art Bank of the SFAA. San Francisco Art Association Painting and Sculpture 1956 Long Beach Muni Art Center. California Painting 40 Painters1935 Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge. Index of Artists: International-Biographical Two Volumes: Includes 1940 Index
Sources www.askART.com news.berkeley.edu/2010/05/12/karl_kasten Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980/An Illustrated History
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