Karl Schrag (1912–95) was a German-born American painter and printmaker, who found much of his inspiration on Deer Isle, Maine, where he maintained a home and studio. His work, which combined aspects of European and American modernism, was characterized by loose, energetic brushwork, and resonant colors that restate the concerns of van Gogh, Matisse, and Kirchner in a contemporary manner. His cascading strokes and visionary demeanor often brought to mind the work of Charles Burchfield. Schrag’s strongest works were paintings and prints of pastoral landscapes inspired by his many summers in Maine like Early Summer.
Schrag was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1912, the son of a prominent lawyer and settled on his vocation early in life. After his family moved to Zurich in 1930, he studied art in Geneva and then in Paris, where his teachers included Roger Bissiere. He came to New York in 1938, continuing his studies at the Art Students League.
Schrag’s career spanned more than sixty years and included strong ties to the New York City art scene. He joined S.W. Hayter’s prestigious printmaking Atelier 17, working alongside artists Miró, Chagall and Jackson Pollock. In 1950 he was named director of the Atelier, and taught at Cooper Union from 1954 to 1968. Schrag’s work has been exhibited widely both in the United States and Europe. His work is included in the permanent collections of over seventy significant museums and institutions in France, Germany, England, and throughout the United States. In 1992, three years before his death, Schrag was given a major retrospective at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine.