Karl Schrag

American 1912 – 1995


Born in 1912 in Karlsruhe, Germany, Schrag completed his early formal studies at the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Karlsruhe and then enrolled in the École des Beaux Arts in Geneva, Switzerland.  At the same time his father, gravely concerned with the political movements in Germany, moved his family to Zurich.  In 1933, Karl Schrag went to Paris and studied at the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, then Le Grande Chaumière before finishing his studies at the Académie Ranson where he came under the influence of the well-respected painter, Roger Bissière.  In 1936 he left Paris for Brussels where his brother had established his law practice and where Schrag had his first one-man exhibition at the Galeries Arenberg.


With war looming in Europe, Schrag and his brother left for New York in 1938.  Relatives of their mother, who was a New Yorker, helped make the transition to the United States easier.  Soon Schrag was enrolled at the Art Students League working with Harry Sternberg and meeting other young émigrés from Europe.  In the mid-1940s he began to make prints at Atelier 17, the innovative and influential print studio founded by Stanley William Hayter.  Here Schrag met and worked with artists such as Gabor Peterdi, Mark Rothko and Fred Becker, and later became director of the Atelier.  He had his first (of more than 20) solo exhibitions in 1947 at the Kraushaar Gallery in New York City and began his teaching career, first at Brooklyn College and later Cooper Union where he taught until 1968.


Schrag was given his first retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 1960 and in 1972 a retrospective of his prints was held at the Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fine Arts.  In 1971 Syracuse University published a catalogue raisonné of his graphic work (two more catalogs [1981, 1990] were produced to keep up with his output) and the Associated American Artists (AAA) gallery gave him the first of three major exhibitions on his graphic art.  In 1992 the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine celebrated his long career with a retrospective exhibition of his paintings, prints and drawings that traveled to other museums.


His work was featured in many books on art including Albert Reese’s American Prize Prints of the 20th Century, Fritz Eichenberg’s The Art of the Print and Una Johnson’s American Prints and Printmakers.


He is represented in numerous museums across the United States and in Europe (see a more complete list on our Exhibitions and Collection page,) including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the British Museum in London and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.


Biographical Chronology


1912 Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, son of Hugo and Bella (Sulzberger) Schrag.

1931 Graduated from Humanistisches Gymnasium, enrolls at École des Beaux Arts, Geneva

1932 Admitted to École Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, later studies with Roger Bissiere at Academie Ranson

1936 Moves to Brussels, Belgium where his brother practices law

1938 First one-man show at Galeries Arenberg, Brussels. Later, with his brother, immigrates to New York. Begins classes at the Art Students League with Harry Sternberg

1941 Receives commission to illustrate The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson

1944 Becomes a citizen of the United States

1945 Marries Ilse Szamatolski; adopts her son Peter. Also begins work with S. W. Hayter at Atelier 17, invited to exhibit a one-man show at National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution. 

1947 Begins a long term relationship with the Kraushaar Gallery that results in more than 20 one-person exhibitions with that gallery

1950 Named Director of Atelier 17, a post he will hold for one year, daughter Katherine is born

1953 First print acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and accepts first teaching position at Brooklyn College

1954 Accepts teaching position at Cooper Union (1954-1968)

1960 Retrospective exhibition presented at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by John Gordon, travels to more than a dozen museums and university galleries

1961 Featured in the film Printmakers produced for the United States Information Agency (USIA)

1962 Receives a Ford Foundation grant to work at Tamarind Lithographic Workshop in Los Angeles, CA

1966 Receives a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

1971 August Freundlich of Syracuse University publishes first installment of Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Works, 1939-1970, with an introduction by Una E. Johnson. Schrag also makes a commitment to leave a complete archive of his graphic work to the Syracuse University Art Collection. 

1972 Retrospective exhibition of his prints presented at the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

1981 Elected Academician of the National Academy of Design, New York.

1981  Part II of the Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Works, 1971-1980, published by Syracuse University.

1987 Retrospective exhibition at Associated American Artists.

1991 Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Works, Part III, 1981-1990, published by Syracuse University. Catalog introduction by Domenic J. Iacono.

1992 Karl Schrag: A Retrospective Exhibition presented at the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine.

1995 Karl Schrag dies (December 10) in New York City

1996 Karl Schrag: a self portrait retrospective 1940-1995 presented at Kraushaar Galleries October 12-November 16, 1996.

2012 Karl Schrag: The Plate and the Print presented at The Turtle Gallery, Deer Isle, Maine.

Karl Schrag: The Rhythms of Nature, A Centennial Celebration presented at Alexandre Gallery, New York.

Karl Schrag: The Rhythms of Nature, A Centennial Celebration presented at Kraushaur Gallery, New York.

Karl Schrag: Memories and Premonitions presented at the SUArt Galleries, Syracuse, New York.