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 Keith Jacobshagen  (1941 - )

About: Keith Jacobshagen


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Lived/Active: Nebraska/Kansas      Known for: horizon-sky dominant landscape painting, monotype

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BIOGRAPHY for Keith Jacobshagen
1941 (Wichita, Kansas)

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horizon-sky dominant landscape painting, monotype

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
One of Nebraska's best-known living painters, Keith Jacobshagen does vast panoramic views, primarily of the Nebraska landscape.  His goal is to obscure or abstract the reality with fragments or suggestions of shapes and places. "When people as me 'where is this?'  I point to my head . . . landscape painting is a cliche. It's a long history of cliches. The best landscape painters, the ones who have lasted, are the ones who have something interesting with the cliches" (Lincoln Journal Star 7/19/2000).

In addition to being a professional painter and graphic artist, Jacobshagen is a Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

His method is to go outside directly to his subject matter, something he does three days--Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays---out of each week, regardless of the weather. He is a great believer in routine and repetition, believing commitments are the core of his creativity.

He stares long and hard at the view he wants to paint, believing that the longer he looks the more he will see, and then begins to sketch, applying thin layers of watercolor over the narrow stripe of graphite that defines the distant horizon.  He prefers the "Zen-like" quality of watercolor, but also uses pastels.  The work is finished later in the studio, although for many years he did plein-air painting, completing the work on site.

His interest in panoramic views began in his childhood when he flew in airplanes with his father, who was a test pilot for an aviation company in Wichita, Kansas.  He trained as a graphic designer and illustrator at the Kansas City Art Institute and then worked in the Contemporary Design Department of Hallmark Cards.  After that he received his MFA from the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

Lecture by the artist to the docents of Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Jacobshagen was born September 8, 1941 in Wichita, Kansas.  Grew up in Wichita where his father was a test pilot.  Studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.  Earned a
BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1965 and worked for Hallmark in Kansas City.  Earned a MFA at the Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence in 1966 studying with Robert Sudlow.  Moved to Nebraska in 1968 to teach at the Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Exhibitions: Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, 1969; Blanden Art Galleries, 1970; Palm Beach, FL,
1972; Pasadena Art Museum, 1972; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, 1974; Wichita Art
Museum, 1978; Mulvane Museum, 1982; Joslyn Art Museum, 1983; Philbrook Art
Museum, 1988; Johnson County Community College, 1993; Sioux City Art Center,
2005, and many more.

Collections: Spencer Museum of Art; Kemper Museum of Art; Museum of Nebraska Art; Joslyn Art Museum; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery; Sioux City Art Center; Pasadena Art Museum; Kemper Museum; Emprise Bank Collection; and many more.
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
AskART,, accessed Oct. 19, 2007; Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936-1976; Arthur, John. Keith Jacobshagen. (New
York: Babcock Galleries, 1990); Pamphlet file at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library in Washington, DC.; Wichita Art Museum’s Library Artists’ Files.
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from Kiechel Fine Art:
"I’m a Midwesterner who has stayed put to make sense of where I live.  My interest in the land is crystallized in my paintings about it," says Jacobshagen.  By combining intimate reflections with a deep understanding and respect for nature, Keith Jacobshagen celebrates landscape in a manner reminiscent of the early Dutch masters.

Through their trademark low horizons and wide, dominant skies, Jacobshagen's paintings elicit a variety of emotions inspired by the Midwestern countryside.  At the site, Jacobshagen takes notes that include exact time and location as well as other intangibles such as wind levels and smells.  In this manner, his small works are akin to diary entries or the comprehensive landscape descriptions of a Willa Cather novel.

Though Jacobshagen moves into the studio as his paintings increase in size, each work maintains the same freshness of life as those painted in the field.  The vantage point is placed above eye level in the majority of his work.  This perspective, along with the artist's careful arrangement of forms on the picture plane energizes the scene through what "Art in America" describes as "romantic self expression and a naturalist's cooly objective vision."

Raised in Wichita, Kansas, Jacobshagen graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas.  His work has been received with high acclaim throughout the United States and was featured on CBS's "Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood."

Currently a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jacobshagen received the Outstanding Research and Creativity Award for his extraordinary contributions.  His work is featured on the cover of the Smithsonian Press/University of Iowa publication Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie and recently exhibited in the retrospective "Beyond the Horizon: Paintings by Keith Jacobshagen, 1990-2005" at the Sioux City Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa.

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