Karl Albert Kasten - abstract paintings

Karl Albert Kasten (March 5, 1916 – May 3, 2010) was a painter-printmaker-educator in the San Francisco Bay Area.Kasten, fourth child of Ferdinand Kasten and his wife Barbara Anna Kasten, grew up in San Francisco's Richmond District. He was a student of art from an early age and regularly competed with his older brother Fred in battleship drawing contests. Fred eventually gave up but Karl continued. At times, Kasten's art seemingly got in the way of his schoolwork and his sixth grade teacher was driven to send a note home: "Dear Mr. Kasten, Do something about your son. All he wants to do is draw. He's not paying attention in school" Fortunately, his father sent a note back to the teacher: "Let him draw."The same year, with financial help from his older brother Fred, Karl furthered his artistic advancement at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and his explorations of art continued from there. Following his graduation from San Francisco Polytechnic High School, Kasten pursued an education in fine art.

 In the early 1950s Kasten experimented with Cubism and non-objective painting but after studying at the Hans Hofmann School in Provincetown, Mass in '51 he turned to Abstract Expressionism. Hofmann's modern art philosophy stressed "pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and color relationships." In her biography of the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism Susan Landauer noted Kasten as the artist who came closest to these tenets. Of that period Kasten said, "It was a great period to work in. Just letting things flow and seeing what happens... I think I got more color into painting during that time than most guys.Kasten's paintings are predominantly acrylics on canvas, but he also works in watercolor and gouache. The graphics are primarily drawings in pencil, monoprints, drypoints and collagraphs. In the 1960s he began working in collography which is a variation of the etching process first practiced by Rudolph Nesch in the 1930s. Kasten's collographs are noteworthy for the sensitivity in texture and for the use of insertable parts such as coins and found objects to print a range of colors.

 In addition to his wide record of painting exhibitions, Karl Kasten is known worldwide as a master printer. In 1950, he established the Printmaking program and a course in Materials and Techniques at UC Berkeley. Kasten's aim and underlying credo with the courses was that printmaking could equal traditional painting through creative exploration. After viewing his colorful etchings of the 1950s, art critic Alfred Frankenstein observed that Kasten had "discovered a new softness, liquidity, and fluency of effect in the bitten plate and with this a new way of expressing the modern artist's preoccupation with space and movement." Susan Landauer recognized Kasten in her monograph Breaking Type: The Art of Karl Kasten, with one or two exceptions 'there were few examples of serious printmaking among Abstract Expressionists in New York.' Kasten has also been recognized for his printing accomplishments with the 1997 Distinguished Artist award of the California Society of Printmakers, the Humanities Research Fellowship and Tamarind Lithography Fellowship. David Acton refers to Kasten succinctly as "the dean of Bay Area printmaking.Wikipedia

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