Karl Schrag Biography

Karl Schrag




Karl Schrag, painter, printmaker, and teacher, was born on December 7, 1912, in Karlsruhe, Germany. As a boy, Schrag's health was fragile, which limited his participation in physical activities with his friends and family, so he turned to reading and drawing. He made his first linocut in 1926, at the age of fourteen.

Schrag completed his formal education at the Humanistisches Gymnasium, Karlsruhe and in 1931 enrolled in École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, Switzerland. Simultaneously, his father, concerned with the political climate in Germany, moved his family to Zurich. In 1933, Schrag moved to Paris where he studied painting for four years, and began his association with Roger Bissiére and Académie Ranson. He found new approaches to color, light, and space and learned to apply them to his own paintings. During this time, Schrag worked entirely in painting and drawing. He was not long at Académie Ranson before Bissiére called him aside and suggested he work under his own self-discipline. Consequently, Schrag left Paris for Brussels, where his brother worked at a law office. He set up his studio in Brussels and after two years he had his first solo exhibition at Galeries Arenberg.

In 1938, the political situation in Germany was now threatening surrounding European nations. Urged by relatives and friends in the United States, Schrag moved to New York with his brother, Paul. The move was beneficial, as Schrag began seriously studying printmaking at the Art Students' League under Harry Sternberg. In 1945, Schrag joined Stanley William Hayter and others at Atelier 17. He worked with artists such as Miró and Chagall, and in 1947 he had his first solo show in New York at the Kraushaar Gallery. Five years later, Hayter returned to Paris, and at Hayter's request Schrag took over directorship of Atelier 17 until his own painting and other teaching commitments made it necessary to leave.

Schrag taught at Brooklyn College from 1953 to 1954 and at Copper Union from 1954 to 1968. He had his first retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 1960, the most recent at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine in 1992. His work is represented in museums across the United States and Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Academy Museum, the British Museum London and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

When Hayter closed Atelier 17, Schrag took over his large etching press, putting it in his own graphic workshop on the ground floor of his home on the Upper East Side of New York.

Karl Schrag died in his home in Manhattan on December 10, 1995.