Peter Krasnow, Edward Henry Weston, 1925, oil on canvas, 50 x 38 inches, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist


What's it all about?

Exhibit Overview

Laguna Art Museum is proud to be organizing a comprehensive exhibition of the work of the Los Angeles artist Peter Krasnow (1886–1979).

Born in Ukraine, Krasnow immigrated to the United States in 1907 and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While in New York exhibiting at the Whitney Club, he met photographer Edward Weston and began a lifelong friendship. Krasnow and his wife Rose drove cross-country in 1922 to settle in Los Angeles, where he quickly became part of a small but active art community. His notable peers included Weston, fellow artists Henrietta Shore, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Lorser Feitelson, and Helen Lundeberg, and architects Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra.

Krasnow’s early works, largely realist portraits and symbolic carved sculptures, are accomplished examples of social realism and Art Deco. His “Demountables” of the 1930s and 40s—hand-carved wood sculptures assembled from interlocking component parts—are organic abstractions drawing on traditions of folk and tribal art. His abstract paintings, whose bright, synthetic colors he chose to contrast with the dark political realities of the 1940s, are schematic tableaux that employ calligraphic symbols referencing spiritual ideas and organic processes. In both sculpture and painting, Krasnow developed styles that have surprising contemporary currency.

Featuring approximately fifty paintings and twenty sculptures, Peter Krasnow: Maverick Modernist is the first museum survey of the artist’s work in almost forty years. It features works on loan from public and private collections all over the country, as well as selections from Laguna Art Museum’s own extensive holdings. It will be accompanied by a full-length catalogue, the first monograph to be devoted to the artist. Organized by Laguna Art Museum, the exhibition is curated by Michael Duncan, independent curator and corresponding editor of Art in America. Duncan has curated and co-curated over thirty exhibitions, most recently An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 2013 (awarded Best Thematic Exhibition Nationally by the International Association of Art Critics, United States); and LA RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles, 1945–1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy, Pasadena Museum of California Art, 2012.

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