Born in Altona, Germany on Jan. 11, 1868, Karl Julius Yens (originally "Jens") studied with Max Koch in Berlin and with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens in Paris. He was active as a muralist in Germany and Edinburgh, Scotland before coming to the U.S. in 1901. During the first decade in his adopted country he fulfilled mural commissions in NYC and Washington, DC.
After settling in southern California in 1910, he was active in Los Angeles and Pasadena before moving to Laguna Beach in 1918. His studio still stands there on South Coast Highway near Ruby Street. Yens exhibited and won a medal in the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Diego, CA. He continued to show widely in Southern California: at the California Art Club in 1919, the Laguna Beach Art Association throughout the 1920s, and again in 1935, at the Los Angeles Painters and Sculptors Club in 1922 and 1928, as well as through many other venues.
As an illustrator, engraver, fresco, portrait and still life painter, Karl Yens became a member of the American Federation of the Arts and made a notable contribution to Southern California's art community.
In the late teena and early twenties Yens did a number of experiments with the technique of cliché-verre, a method that utilized a glass plate, photo sensitized paper and the sun to create a photographic image on the paper which he then hand colored. The technique had been developed in France in the 19th century and was used by a number of the Barbizon painters/printmakers.
Yens died in Laguna Beach on April 13, 1945.