Karl Kasten Biography

Karl Kasten




Karl Kasten, printmaker, painter, inventor, and educator, was born in San Francisco on March 5, 1916. Graduating as valedictorian from Marin College in 1936, he enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley where he received his M.A. in 1939. Postgraduate work included studying with Mauricio Lasansky at the University of Iowa in 1949 and Hans Hofmann at the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1951.

His distinguished teaching career began in 1941 with his appointment to the California School of Fine Arts. This career was briefly put on hold during the Second World War while he served in the Army as a member of the Corps of Engineers. In 1946, he left California for a brief appointment to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, but after two Michigan winters, Kasten returned to the Bay Area in 1947. Joining the faculty of San Francisco State University, his drive and commitment to printmaking led him to plan the University's printmaking studio.

His influential career at the University of California at Berkeley began in 1950 with an invitation from Worth Ryder to join the faculty. Kasten was an early proponent of Abstract Expressionism in the Bay Area. He was a charter member of the Bay Printmakers Society and the first president of the newly formed California Society of Printmakers in 1968. It was during the sixties that Kasten expanded the possibilities of printmaking by developing matrixes, which consisted of vacuum-formed plastic plates with insertable parts and, in 1977, he designed the lightweight K-B etching press. He received the Distinguished Artists Award from the California Society of Printmakers in 1997.

Selected repositories of his work include the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Ithaca College Museum of Art, Los Angeles Museum of Art, Mills College, Musée des Beaux Arts, Oakland Museum of California, Rhode Island School of Design, University of California at Berkeley, University of Oklahoma, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Karl Kasten died in Berkeley, California on May 3, 2010.