Peter Krasnow

Maverick Modernist

Exhibition Website

Jun 26 2016 - Sep 25 2016

Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Beach, CA

This is 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.

Exhibition overview from the museum website

Whether you go or not, the full-length catalog Peter Krasnow: Maverick Modernist is the first monograph to be devoted to the artist. Although revered during his lifetime by his contemporaries, Krasnow remained largely out of the public eye, cantankerously resisting publicity or self-promotion while dedicating himself to an artistic ideal. He demonstrated extraordinary skills in each of his three major phases: the early representational paintings and wood carvings (1910-1930), the abstract wood sculptures (1936-1943), and the hard-edged geometric and patterned paintings (1940-1979). In 1977 Lorser Feitelson said of Krasnow, "I call him both the youngest old artist in Los Angeles and the oldest young artist. Because his art doesn't date. It's ever present." 

  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Modernism
  • Peter Krasnow

Exhibition Venues & Dates