The 1940s, the World War II and John Entenza’s “Art and
Architecture” magazine were great stimulants to the feelings
of a ‘new world’ to be shaped and Peter Krasnow’s
idiosyncratic art exemplified these feelings through
elements of architecture, narrative abstraction and a
The structure of Untitled 1941, K-7 1947 and K-7 1955 are
building blocks with life-affirming colors and subtle
under-lying narratives. In K-7 1955 we even find Krasnow’s
spectacular carvings juxtaposed into his painting. These
three paintings ‘speak’ to Krasnow’s excited reaction to the
tenor of the times. At the same time, they reflect the
awakening of new directions in art.
California was a conduit for these new directions. After
graduating from the Art Institute School in Chicago in 1916
and a tentative couple of years in New York City, Krasnow –
like so many other artists in the United States and in the
world at large – was alert to the promise of an unlimited
environment in which to say ‘new things’…through the
visual arts, through music, through literature.
Peter Krasnow’s history in California,, from the early 1920s
to his death in 1979, was marked by innovation, invention,
creativity, curiousity and daring. Among the small but
intense art community in the Los Angeles area, Krasnow was
regarded with respect and recognition. His introduction to
this community through his lifelong friend, Edward Weston,
was also a welcomed ‘passport’.
Portraiture was Krasnow’s technical ‘bread and butter’in the
1920s, but even to these classical forms he introduced
individual elements that pronounced ‘modernity’.
Ever challenging himself, Krasnow explored printmaking
through relief prints (linocuts) and lithography in the late
1920s.. Though he soon abandoned these techniques as
‘limiting’, he returned to painting in watercolors as well
as oil on paper, canvas and board, particularly after being
awarded a Guggenheim grant in 1930 to work in the Dordogne
region of France for a couple of years.
Carving also engaged his attention, beginning in the 1920s,
which initially found unique expression through his
commissions and linocut carvings in the late 1920s to ..his
‘demountables’, beginning in about 1935 consisting of
extended wood carvings joined through uniquely carved niches.
When he returned from France in 1934, carving became his
passion. These ‘Demountables’ are legendary. Only in the
early 1940s did he return to painting with new inspiration
and new forms.
Peter Krasnow was DARING!