Karl Kasten Biography

Karl Kasten




Karl Kasten, printmaker, painter, inventor, and educator, was born in San Francisco on 5 March 1916. After 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 with Hans Hofmann at the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1951.

Kasten’s distinguished teaching career began in 1941 with his appointment to the faculty of 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 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 1960s 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.

Kasten received the Distinguished Artists Award from the California Society of Printmakers in 1997 and his work is represented in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the San José Museum of Art, California; the Georgetown University Library Art Collection, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.

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