January 8, 1960: A retrospective exhibition of pictures by the internationally known painter and print-maker, Karl Schrag, will open at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday, February 9 and will remain on display through March 6. Selected by John Gordon, a former Curator at the Brooklyn Museum and now Curator of Paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 45 works were borrowed from museums and private collections specifically for this Exhibition which was organized by the American Federation of Arts under a grant from the Ford Foundation.
This retrospective exhibition program was organized “to increase the opportunities for the public throughout the United States to view the work of established artists.” Visitors to the Brooklyn Museum will have their first look at the Karl Schrag Exhibition which spans a retrospective period of more than 30 years, and includes 2 Brooklyn Museum Purchase Award Winner[s], “RAIN AND THE SEA” and “TREE AGAINST THE SKY.” These two outstanding selections were the first purchases of Karl Schrag’s work by a major Museum in this country.
"Interpreting the simple but elusive truths of nature is the life work of Karl Schrag,” writes John Gordon in the handsomely illustrated catalog of the Exhibition. “His senses respond not only to the obvious beauty of nature which we all see, but to the whisper of the wind, the clap of thunder, and the fragrance of flowers.”
Among Schrag’s earlier works in the Brooklyn show are several views of city and country life such as “EDGE OF THE TOWN” and “EDGARTOWN.” The stirring and prophetic “RAINSTORM,” representing Schrag‘s love of the sea and the sky, is a poetic conception of sea and rain which has the beauty of line and color and the interplay of rhythms and motions which are characteristic of Karl Schrag’s art.
In "HEAT WAVE”, which is described as an effort “to picture what is not to be seen but which is still there” Schrag has achieved a painting which gives the actual feeling of heat. Another canvas, the lyrical and seductive “FRAGRANCE OF GRASSES,” represents the artist’s preoccupation with subjective themes. The arbitrary and abstract design rising above the grasses in this appealing picture is the artist’s conceptions, in visual terms, of his excitement and pleasure in the fragrance of grass.
“Art is the revelation of a truth which is beyond the reach of words,” is the forthright philosophy of Karl Schrag who has found a lifelong revelation in his work. As a boy in Karlsruhe, Germany, he was often in poor health and learned to enjoy drawing and painting during the long periods of confinement. In 1931 his family moved to Switzerland where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva. The following year he went to Paris where he continued his studies, and from 1936 to 1938 he lived with his brother in Brussels where he received his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Arenberg, just before he came to the United States and established his home In New York City.
Schrag studied print-making at the Art Students League and, during the next few formulative years, he illustrated a deluxe edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Suicide Club,” and completed many of his oils, watercolors and prints depicting the city and country lIfe of his adopted homeland.
In 1944 he became a citizen of the United States, and the following year he worked with the master, Stanley William Hayter, at Atelier 17 with such artists as Chagall, Lasansky, Miro and Peterdi, the famed print-maker who was recently awarded a $10,000 Ford Foundation Prize following an exhibition of work at the Brooklyn Museum.
Schrag, who became director of Atelier 17 in 1950, has been given one-man shows at the National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and at the Kraushaar Galleries in New York. He now teaches at Cooper Union and works in his Manhattan studio which houses the original press once used in Atelier 17. Looking at it, Karl Schrag reflected on the years which have brought him immeasurable success, stating “I am mainly impressed by what is simple in nature and untouched by man. A few grasses or a big piece of ocean and sky can inspire a painting. When one searches for a deeper understanding of the visible forms of a landscape, another landscape within one‘s self, appears always clearer and stronger in one’s work.”
The representational Exhibition of this outstanding artist, receiving its first showing in the 2nd floor print galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, will be circulated to art centers and museums in the northeast for one year and will then tour nationally.
PRESS MAY VIEW THE SHOW AT ANYTIME ON MONDAY, February 8.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 008-10.