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Karl Knaths papers, 1890-1973, bulk 1922-1971

Biographical Note

Karl Knaths (1891-1971), born Otto G. Knaths, lived and worked in Provincetown, Massachusetts and was known for his cubist style of painting.
Knaths was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in his early twenties. The 1913 Armory Show provided his first major encounter with modernist art styles and the works of Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh. In 1919, Knaths moved to Provincetown and began to explore cubist perspectives in his own work, which drew much of its inspiration from the fishing culture and landscapes of his Cape Cod environs. Intellectually curious and drawn to art theory, Knaths recorded his thoughts on composition rules, color classifications, and the potential intersections between music, space, and color theory in notebooks, notes, and sketchbooks throughout his career.
The patronage of art collector Duncan Phillips led to Knaths's first one-man show at the Phillips Collection in 1929. The following year, he landed a solo show at New York's Daniel Gallery. Knaths joined the Works Progress Administration in 1934 and painted murals and other works for a year and a half. From 1938 to 1950, he also taught painting and art theory during a six week course held at the Phillips Art School, and was a guest lecturer at Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1944) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (1948). From 1945 to 1971, he was represented by the art gallery Paul Rosenberg and Co. Knaths died in 1971 in his home in Provincetown, at the age of 80.