Karl Zerbe

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Karl Zerbe
Born(1903-09-16)September 16, 1903
DiedNovember 24, 1972(1972-11-24) (aged 69)
Alma materTechnische Hochschule Friedberg, Debschitz School
Employer(s)School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University
Known forpainting
SpouseMarion Zerbe

Karl Zerbe (September 16, 1903 – November 24, 1972)[1][2] was a German-born American painter and educator.[2]


Zerbe's painting Beacon Hill, held by the Detroit Institute of Arts

Karl Zerbe was born on September 16, 1903 in Berlin, Germany. The family lived in Paris, France from 1904–1914, where his father was an executive in an electrical supply concern. In 1914 they moved to Frankfurt, Germany where they lived until 1920. Karl Zerbe studied chemistry in 1920 at the Technische Hochschule in Friedberg, Germany.

From 1921 until 1923 he lived in Munich, where he studied painting at the Debschitz School, mainly under Josef Eberz. From 1924 until 1926 Karl Zerbe worked and traveled in Italy on a fellowship from the City of Munich.[3] In 1932 his oil painting titled, ‘’Herbstgarten’’ (autumnal garden), of 1929, was acquired by the National-Galerie, Berlin; in 1937, the painting was destroyed by the Nazis as "Degenerate art."

From 1937 until 1955, Karl Zerbe was the head of the Department of Painting, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[4]

In 1939 Karl Zerbe became a U.S. citizen and the same year for the first time he used encaustic. He joined the faculty in the Department of Art and Art History at Florida State University in 1955, where he taught until his death.

He was grouped together with the Boston artists Kahlil Gibran (sculptor), Jack Levine and Hyman Bloom as a key member of the Boston Expressionist school of painting,[5] and through his teaching influenced a generation of painters,[6][7] including, among others, David Aronson, Bernard Chaet, Reed Kay, Arthur Polonsky, Jack Kramer, Barbara Swan, Andrew Kooistra, and Lois Tarlow.[8]

His works are thought significant because they record "the response of a distinguished artist of basically European sensibility to the physical and cultural scene of the New World".[1]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Work in public collections[edit]

Zerbe's work is in various public collections, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Karl Zerbe. April 25, 1961. OCLC 1095748 – via Open WorldCat.
  2. ^ a b "Karl Zerbe papers". Smithsonian Online Visual Archive (SOVA), Smithsonian Institution. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 2010. Retrieved 2021-02-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Elke Lauterbach: Sieben Münchner Maler: Eine Ausstellungsgemeinschaft in der Zeit von 1931-1937 - Inhaltsverzeichnis und Einleitung [1] Archived 2014-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Goodhue, Laura (2005). "Creative Expression: An Imminent Clash as Experienced by Three Artists". eScholarship@BC. Boston College. pp. 47–48. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  5. ^ "Waxing Poetic: Encaustic Art in America during the Twentieth Century, Karl Zerbe". Archived from the original on 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  6. ^ McQuaid, Cate (27 December 2011). "Boston Expressionists get their due". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017. Another key player was Karl Zerbe...Zerbe taught a generation of artists at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
  7. ^ Chaet, Bernard (1980). "The Boston Expressionist School: A Painter's Recollections of the Forties". Archives of American Art Journal. The Smithsonian Institution. 20 (1): 29. doi:10.1086/aaa.20.1.1557495. JSTOR 1557495. S2CID 192821072. In 1963, James Johnson Sweeney, speaking on 'Art Education in the United States,' cited two great European-born artists as the most important influences on American painting of the preceding twenty-five years—Hans Hofmann and Karl Zerbe.
  8. ^ Bookbinder, Judith (2005). Boston Modern: Figurative Expressionism as Alternative Modernism. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press. p. 5. ISBN 9781584654889. Archived from the original on 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  9. ^ "Currier Collections Online - Object Thumbnails". collections.currier.org.
  10. ^ "You are being redirected..." www.dia.org.
  11. ^ "Harvard Art Museums". www.harvardartmuseums.org.
  12. ^ "Karl Zerbe | Kemper Art Museum". www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.
  13. ^ "Disorder". collections.mfa.org.
  14. ^ "Karl Zerbe | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art.
  15. ^ "Artist Info". www.nga.gov.
  16. ^ "Karl Zerbe". walkerart.org.
  17. ^ https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/488270[bare URL]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]