Karl Repfennig Biography

Karl Repfennig




Printmaker and painter Karl Repfennig's formal art education came later in his life. Born in 1935 in Hanover, Germany, he took an interest in art as a young adult and taught himself how to paint; however, he didn't consider pursuing art school at the time. After graduation from secondary school, he took an apprenticeship as an auto mechanic and, following this, trained as a maritime engineer in Bremen. Through this work he traveled the globe working in the engine rooms on various ships before deciding to move to the United States in 1962. After fourteen years of various business ventures, which eventually led him to the West Coast of California.

Around 1970 Repfennig moved to Santa Rosa, California, one hour north of San Francisco. There he opened The Painted House on College Avenue. The restaurant was two buildings with a dining patio between them. Karl was a self taught artist at that time and completely decorated the interior spaces with his eccentric, Expressionist inspired paintings. He hired excellent chefs, had one of the early great wine lists and put together the one of the first "hip" casual fine dining experiences in Santa Rosa, helping create the working model for many of the future restaurants in the county, now famous for fine dining. The Painted House, like the coffee houses of the sixties featured a small stage and entertainment and he
quickly befriended artists from throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area where Northern California musicians, including Kate Wolf, Don Coffin, Hugh Shacklett, John Brandeberg, Gary Weiner, Larry Hyman, Hank and Jean Bassior and many more, formed the beginnings of the Sonoma County Sound. He went on to found another restaurant in Coddingtown where he would organize exhibitions as well as events that featured local musicians, poets, and writers.

By 1975 Repfennig decided to sell his belongings and put his energy into formal art training and, at the age of forty, he began taking painting, printmaking, and art history courses at the San Francisco Art Institute's satellite campus. Despite his business successes, Repfennig missed his home country and in 1979 he returned to Germany, settling in his native Hanover.

In the early 1980s he had become a part of the White Horse artist group and, with his companion Felicitas Bohm, traveled to the U.S. and elsewhere seeking inspiration for new works. In 1988 they decided to relocate to the German countryside. By chance, they met Thomas Veil, a representative of the Holzminden government, who was in the process of refurbishing the 16th century Bevern Castle with the aim of making it an arts center. Veil offered the couple living quarters in the castle, which they accepted, and in 1993 Repfennig and Bohm founded the Holzminden art association, holding events and exhibitions that highlighted the work of new artists and new ideas and styles. He also opened the Atelier Karl Repfennig, in which he taught until the early 2000s, when he focused once again on his work. Repfenning remained at Bevern until his death on January 25 of 2021.

Selected Exhibitions:
1986: Broadcast Gallery, Santa Monica, USA
1987: University of Santa Barbara, CA, USA
1989: Galerie Ahlers, Gottingen, Germany
1990: Ministere de la culture, France
1991: Zwei Kunstler der Region, Schloss Bevern, Germany
1992: Podium Kunst, Schramberg, Germany
1993: Villa Streccius, Landau, Germany; Kunstlergruppe Galerie Arche, Hameln, Germany
1995: Zeichnungen in der Bucherel Soltau, Germany
1997: Art Foyer, Hameln
1998: Salon Salder, Salzgitter, Germany
1999: Kunstverein Salzgitter
2001: Musik-und Kulturverien Stadtoldendorf, Germany
2003: Kunstlergruppe Galerie Arche
2005: Skulpturen, Kupark Bad Pyrmont, Germany
2008: Kunstraum 44, Hanover
2014: Retrospective, Dringenberg Town Hall, Germany