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Peter and Rose Krasnow papers, 1914-2001

Peter and Rose Krasnow papers, 1914-2001

Krasnow, Peter, 1886-1979

Sculptor, Painter, Lithographer

Collection Information

Size: 5.7 linear feet

Addition 1.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter, printmaker, and sculptor Peter Krasnow (1886-1979) and his wife, writer Rose Krasnow (1885-1984), measure 5.7 linear feet and date from 1914 to 1984. Papers include biographical materials, a sound recording, correspondence, essays, poetry, short stories, notes, transcripts of lectures and radio talks, five diaries of Peter Krasnow, personal business records, exhibition catalogs and announcements, clippings, magazines, five sketchbooks, sketches and drawings in multiple media, prints, and photographs.

Biographical materials include documentation of Rose Krasnow's service as a member of the Army Air Forces Ground Observer Corps, programs and other materials from various memorial services, a sound recording with commentary on a Peter Krasnow exhibition, and documentation of a project to publish Rose Krasnow's poetry.

Correspondence consists of Peter and Rose Krasnow's personal and professional correspondence as well as a small amount of third party correspondence. Personal correspondence with friends and family involves health, work, daily events, and other life updates. Professional correspondence with art dealers, curators, gallery and museum directors, collectors, and colleges and universities concerns exhibitions, sales, loans, and donations of artwork. Primary correspondents include Leslie Burton and Harriet Blades, Dan Budnik, Grace Clements, Conrad Crocker, Dudley Howe, Lilly Weil Jaffe, Grace L. McCann Morley, Dale and Elaine Owen, Aimée Brown Price, Ernest and Ina Raboff, Irving Stone, and Edward Weston. There are also numerous scattered letters from artists, writers, curators, critics, museums, arts associations, and Jewish organizations.

Writings and notes are by Peter Krasnow, Rose Krasnow, and others. Writings by Peter Krasnow include a draft autobiography, essays, lectures on wood sculpture, typescripts, notes, and writings on art. Writings by Rose Krasnow include essays, plays, poetry, and short stories. Writings by others consist of essays, lectures, notes, plays, poetry, short stories, and typescripts. Other writers include Grace Clements, Fidel Danieli, Robert DeLuce, Alfred S. Drake, and Philip Noer. There are also five handwritten personal diaries by Peter Krasnow.

Personal business records include Rose Krasnow's bank book from 1980, Peter Krasnow's naturalization certificate and passport, an inventory of paintings on index cards, tax applications for the Peter Krasnow Arts Foundation, materials relating to Peter Krasnow's estate and the purchase of his artwork, and various receipts.

Printed materials include exhibition catalogs and announcements, clippings, bound books, magazines and journals, a Chicago Society of Artists block print calendar, and two printed posters from Peter Krasnow's exhibit at the Galerie Pierre in 1934.

Artwork is mostly by Peter Krasnow, and includes five sketchbooks, sketches and drawings, watercolors, preliminary studies in oil, and prints.

Photographs include personal photographs, photographs of major sculpture projects in progress, and artwork. Personal photographs are of Peter and Rose, family members, and friends, as well as a few scattered images of landscapes and architecture, possibly travel photographs. There are also photographs of Edward and Flora Weston. There are three photograph albums, one contains images of Krasnow's relief sculptures for the Sinai Temple's Kohn Chapel. Two photograph albums were compliled by Susan Ehrlich for Peter and Rose Krasnow. Also found are photographs of works of art. Some of the photographs in the papers were taken by Dan Budnik.

An addition of 2.0 linear feet donated 2014 includes correspondence, writings by Peter and Rose Krasnow, financial records from the Krasnow estate, photographs and slides, unbound scrapbook pages, printed material, and a sketch of a horse, unsigned.

Biographical/Historical Note

Peter Krasnow (1886-1979) was a painter from Los Angeles, California. Krasnow was born in Ukraine, Russia. He immigrated to the United States at age 17, and was active in Boston and New York before moving to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. In Chicago, he met his wife, Rose (1885-1984). In 1922, they settled in Los Angeles. Krasnow's work included carved wood reliefs, including ones done for the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and the Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, as well as paintings and prints. Peter Krasnow died in 1979. Rose Krasnow (1885-1984) was a prolific writer of poems, short stories, and plays.


The Peter and Rose Krasnow papers were donated in several increments between 1976 and 1998 and 2014 by Peter Krasnow, the Estate of Peter Krasnow, and the Peter and Rose Krasnow Foundation.

A Finding Aid to the Peter and Rose Krasnow Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Peter Krasnow (1886-1979) was a painter, sculptor, and printmaker who lived and worked primarily in Southern California. His wife, Rose Krasnow (1885-1984), was a prolific writer of poems, short stories, and plays.
Peter Krasnow was born on August 20, 1886 in the Ukraine, Russia to Jewish parents. His father's work as an interior designer inspired Krasnow's interest in art.
In 1907, Krasnow emigrated to the United States, first living in Boston. He moved to Chicago in 1908 to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, where he met his future wife, Rose Bloom. To support himself during his studies, Krasnow worked as a security officer and performed other manual jobs. He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1916 and married Rose that same year.
The Krasnows moved to New York in 1919. In New York, Krasnow experienced some artistic success, participating in group and solo exhibitions at the Whitney Studio Club. During this time period, Krasnow often painted city scenes using a dark color palette.
In 1922, the Krasnows moved to Los Angeles, California. Krasnow built a studio near Glendale in 1923, on land purchased from photographer and friend Edward Weston. The studio also served as the Krasnows' main residence for the rest of their lives. In 1923 in Los Angeles, Krasnow exhibited with the Group of Independent Artists, which included Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Boris Deutsch, Nick Brigante, Ben Berlin, and other noteworthy artists. During his first years in California, Krasnow mostly created watercolor paintings, including a series of landscapes, using a lighter color palette than his earlier works. In the 1920s, Krasnow also accepted commissions for carved wood reliefs at the Temple Emmanu-El in San Francisco and the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
Krasnow received a grant in 1931, and he and Rose temporarily relocated to the Dordogne region of France, where they lived until 1934. During this time, Krasnow painted a series of watercolors and paintings of the French landscape. Before returning to the United States, Krasnow exhibited these landscapes at the Galerie Pierre.
After returning to California, Krasnow began creating carved wood sculptures, which he named 'demountables,' often using wood from trees on his property. Krasnow created these sculptures to celebrate the organic shapes inherent in wood.
In 1934, Krasnow returned to painting, this time creating bright, colorful, geometric designs which often incorporated symbolism from his Jewish heritage. Krasnow focused on these paintings through the remaining years of his life. In 1977, Krasnow received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Peter Krasnow died on October 30, 1979 in Los Angeles. Rose Krasnow died five years later, in 1984.
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1942-1983 (Boxes 1, 6; 7 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1930-1984 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1916-1980 (Boxes 1-2; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Diaries, circa 1955-1968 (Box 2-3; 5 folders)
Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1914-1982 (Box 3; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Materials, circa 1922-1981 (Boxes 3-4 and OV 9; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1918-1980 (Boxes 4-6 and OV 7-8, 10; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 8: Sketchbooks, circa 1918-1973 (Box 5; 5 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1914-1981 (Boxes 5-6; 0.6 linear feet)
The Peter and Rose Krasnow papers were donated in several increments between 1976 and 1998 and 2014 by Peter Krasnow, the Estate of Peter Krasnow, and the Peter and Rose Krasnow Foundation.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation and microfilmed in multiple accretions on reels 1712-1713, 1756, 1818, and 3967. Filmed and unfilmed papers were merged and fully processed by Erin Townsend in 2010.

Restrictions on Access

CLOSED to researchers for processing. Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Peter and Rose Krasnow papers, 1914-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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