(1918 - 2010)
Keith Allen Jr Crown was active/lived in California, Missouri, Iowa. Keith Crown is known for mod sea-landscape painting, abstraction, teaching.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Keokuk, Iowa, Keith Crown became a leading abstractionist in Southern California following World War II. His primary medium was watercolor, and he was on the board of directors of the California Water Color Society, and in 1959 served as President.
Biography from the Archives of askART
He was raised in Gary, Indiana, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1936 to 1940, earning a BFA.. He was in the Army during World War II and served as a field artist and correspondant in the Pacific Theatre. After the war, he returned to Chicago for more art education, and then moved to California. From 1946 to 1983, he was Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Living in Manhattan Beach, he painted colorful abstractions of coastal views, and in the early 1960s, his style became radically abstract, often in the medium of transparent watercolor.
After his retirement, he moved to Columbia, Missouri. From 1956, he was an active participant in the Taos, New Mexico art scene. He built an adobe house on 7 acres in Talpa, New Mexico, a town near Taos, where he spent his summers from 1972 until 1998.
In 1986, the University of Missouri Press published a monograph, "Keith Crown Watercolors", by Sheldon Reich.
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, "California Watercolors"
Frank Stack, Professor Emeritus of Art, University of Missouri. He is a neighbor and colleague of the artist.
Biography from Fine Arts Collection, Luther College
Keith Allen Crown was born in Keokuk, IA on May 27, 1918. Crown studied at AIC in 1936-40. Following service in the Army during WWII, he moved to southern California and settled in Manhattan Beach. For 37 years he taught painting at USC. Upon retirement, he moved to Columbia, MO and remained there until his demise on Jan. 31, 2010.
Exh: Calif. WC Society, 1949-53.
Edan Hughes, author of the book "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Social Security Death Index (1940-2002).Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here
Keith Crown was born May 27, 1918, in Keokuk, Iowa. He attended the
School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1936-1940, receiving his
BFA in 1946. During World War II, he was an Infantry Artist and Staff
Sergeant as well as a field correspondent for Yank magazine. He was
awarded a Bronze Star during the War. Crown started out at Camp Roberts
in California, was transferred to a camp in Washington, and then
deployed to Hawaii. His war service was primarily spent in the Pacific
theater serving in the 161st Regiment, 25th Division. He married Helen
Elaine Talle in 1945. He was later married to Patricia Dahlman in 1966.
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Between 1940 and 1941, Crown was an instructor of art at Luther College
before being inducted into the Army. It was during this time that
he created the Messiah Poster in the Fine Arts Collection. Crown later
recalled that he created 25 silkscreen posters to advertise the event
in 1940. Crown donated the poster to the College in 1989, immediately
before the 50th anniversary of the Messiah performances.
In 1946, Crown joined the faculty at the University of Southern
California in Los Angeles as an instructor of art. In 1947, he had his
first one-man show at the M.H. deYoung Museum in San Francisco.
He became interested in pre-Columbian art after a trip to Mexico in
1951, acquiring a fine collection. He was awarded a sabbatical
leave in 1956 when he visited Taos, New Mexico, for four months.
A second sabbatical leave occurred in 1964 when he spent time as a
Visiting Professor of Painting at the University of Wisconsin in
Through an act of vandalism in 1965, Crown lost over one-hundred
paintings. He continued working, becoming a Visiting Professor of
Painting at the University of Calgary at Alberta, Canada, during the
summer months. The pattern of doing visiting professorships during
summers continued with positions at the University of Wisconsin,
Madison, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Portland State
University, the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri,
Columbia. Crown also gave numerous lecture-demonstrations and workshops
and was an artist in residence at several colleges including Bethany
College in Lindsborg, KS and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Crown spent considerable time painting and writing while working in
Taos, New Mexico. In 1975, he built a house in Talpa, near Taos.
Although he continued traveling widely, he stayed in Taos part of each
year. Retiring in 1983 from USC as a Professor Emeritus of Art, he
moved to Columbia, Missouri, where he continued to produce art. A
retrospective exhibit of his art was held to celebrate his 90th
birthday in 2008 at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery at the University of
The list of one-man exhibitions and invitational exhibitions in which
Crown showed his art is extensive. His works are in many public and
private collections. He won innumerable prizes and awards including
purchase awards. He was president of the National Watercolor
Society in 1959 and a member of the founding board of directors of the
Los Angeles chapter of Artist's Equity. He served on many juries
for art exhibitions and his paintings illustrate numerous books. In
2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Watercolor
Society USA Honor Society.
Crown preferred to paint his watercolors outdoors rather than in a
studio. Although he experimented with acrylics, oils and other mediums,
he concentrated on watercolors throughout his life. He especially
enjoyed painting around Taos, New Mexico, in desert terrain. Crown used
various means to apply his paint which is often colorful, including
brushes, razor knives, sponges, a water can, a spray bottle, string and
nails. He also used an air-brush which he described as providing a
"distinguished character" to his paintings. He typically sketched
before beginning a painting. Former students have commented that he was
known for his productivity, starting and finishing a painting the same
day. He has signed different sides of his paintings so they could be
hung in different ways.
During Crown's marriage to Helen Elaine Talle, they collected
pre-Columbian art from Mexico. It was given to Luther College in her
memory by her daughters, Dr. Patricia Crown, Katherine Crown Webster,
and Haine Talle Crown in 1988.
"December 7, 1941: America, Winneshiek Go to War!" Decorah Public Opinion, 779 (December 3, 1991);
Reich, Sheldon. Keith Crown: Watercolors. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1986;
"Keith Crown, A Watercolorist." The Missourian. May 23, 2008. columbiamissoourian.com
Who's Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, various dates;
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