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 Tom Knapp  (1925 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Wyoming      Known for: modern western sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
Tom Knapp
from Auction House Records.
Kwakiutl Dance Speaker, Northwest Coast
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tom Knapp is a bronze sculptor recording the modern Western scene.  He was born in Gillette, Wyoming in 1925, and since 1971 has lived in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.  His wife is artist, Dorothy Bell Knapp.

He is intensely interested in the contemporary Indian and strives for ever-fresh way to depict the dignity and culture of the present-day Indian and Westerner.  Of this commitment, he said: "There's a Western art fad in progress, and things that happened 100 years ago are currently being re-examined for use as subject matter.  I feel that this is largely wasted effort, After all, such artists are trying to breathe life into something they didn't actually experience." This interest in Indians dates to his adolescence when a Plains Indian tribe camped near his family's ranch every summer. 

There were no museums near him when he was growing up, but Army service during the Korean War exposed him to sculpture and painting shows.  After the war, he attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles when he was nearly 30.

He was a Walt Disney artist for many years, and also had a job as an animation artist for Mountain Bell Telephone Company in Albuquerque. New Mexico.  He decided that he would quit Mountain Bell "whenever commissions from sculpture equaled my regular salary." After quitting, he "suddenly realized that self-employment had cut my total income in half," but since 1969, he has retained his full-time commitment to sculpture.
Knapp casts his own bronzes in the backyard of his studio, as part of a neighborhood "Pour In" that has been described in New Mexico Magazine. His series of contemporary American Indian ceremonial dancers was featured in Art of the West, which quotes Knapp as claiming that "vitality, movement, is the most important thing in sculpture, not the detail."  His work is in five public collections.  He is listed in Who's Who in American Art.
Contemporary Western Artists by Peggy and Harold Samuels, courtesy Adobe Gallery

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