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Peter Krasnow

Theme/Style – Ashcan School, Modernism, Judaic art

Media – Oils, sculptures, drawings, graphic design

Artistic Focus – Peter Krasnow shared the Ashcan School’s interest in depicting life realistically and unsentimentally. Also influenced by the French Modernists, Krasnow’s New York works sought to capture the city without fanciful adornment. The two-dimensional perspective of his New York period continued to evolve, as did his preference for spaces filled with a “kaleidoscopic whirlwind of abstract shapes.” His use of color evolved, as well, influenced by the bright desert landscape of the Los Angeles area to which he later relocated, and the sense of openness he felt in the land.

Career Highlights –

• Born in the Ukraine, Peter Krasnow moved to America, first settling in Chicago, where he attended the Chicago Art Institute, graduating in 1915.
• He moved to New York City but became frustrated with what he called “the crowded, unfriendly East Coast” – so he and his wife, their belongings packed in their car, drove across the U.S. and arrived in Southern California in 1922. There, he found a home.
• A three-year period spent in the Dordogne region of France cemented Krasnow's relationship with the Modernist approach, and his 1934 return to Southern California was marked by a movement into non-representational art, including sculpture in which form and texture replaced subject matter as the key component of the work.
• In the late 1930s, Krasnow became a proponent of the demountable sculpture, the components of which could be separated. Starting off representational, his demountable sculptures ultimately were abstract forms made from highly polished warm woods.
• Krasnow’s later works often incorporated Hebrew calligraphy as well as a more architectural, hard-edged sense of order. He often put his artistic skills to work on commissions for Southern California synagogues and community centers.