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 James (Herbert James) Konrad, Jr.  (1943 - 2011)



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Lived/Active: Illinois/Iowa      Known for: realist, allegorical still life painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The Augustana community is mourning the sudden loss of James (Jim) Konrad, a longtime adjunct professor of art, who died at his home Friday, May 6, 2011, after a sudden illness. He was 67.

Konrad earned his M.F.A. and B.F.A. from Drake University in Des Moines. He taught for the past 20 years at Augustana College and planned to retire in a matter of weeks. He was an acclaimed artist who offered his expertise to the students he taught within the art department, helping build and restore the college's permanent collection.

Visitation and the funeral will be at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 4097 18th St., Bettendorf, Iowa. Visitation is 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10. Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 11. (Obituary)

"Jim was an amazing artist and a generous teacher," said Megan Quinn, professor of art and chair of the art department. "He was a great role model because he continually experimented with technique and subject matter. He was renowned and awarded for his super-realist still life paintings which commented on the Vietnam War. He had command of many of the art media you only read about in history books. He made his own pastels, rabbit skin glue, and egg tempera, to name a few."

Catherine Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts and professor and chair of the art history department, recalls Konrad as a model of genuine collaboration between the art and art history departments.

"Jim was absolutely pivotal in the building of our pedagogical art history collection, currently featured and celebrated locally and nationally," she said. "He and I have spent numerous hours of lively, collegial conversation over the past 20 years, examining artwork from our respective perspectives, to determine suitability as rich additions to the teaching collection. Jim had an impeccable eye for the connoisseurship of fine art which he lent to his superb conservation of paintings."

Konrad contributed many works of art during his lifetime, a sample of which can be seen hanging in the College Center Board Room. In admiration for his work, former President Thomas Tredway asked Konrad to paint his presidential portrait, now displayed in the board room along with portraits of presidents Gustav Andreen, Conrad Bergendoff, and C.W. Sorensen.


Biography from Figge Art Museum/Davenport Art Museum:
James Konrad is known for his meticulous craftsmanship and expertise in painting methods and materials. His interest in naturalistic painting led him, in the 1970s, to immerse himself in Old Master painting techniques and compositions. In the following decade, Konrad, inspired by Old Master compositions, sought in his paintings to convey metaphors of contemporary society. This pursuit led to a series of allegorical still-lifes that comprise the psychologically compelling Hostage series for which he is best known.

In these works Konrad arranges various objects in a shallow stage-like space-a process that may take up to several months. He then paints from direct observation of the objects as they have been finally arranged. Tensions are established by the subtle positioning of opposing shapes, contours, and lines. A recurring motif in the series is the color chart/wheel, representing the transcendence of art. In Hostages #3, in the collection of the Figge Art Museum, this is juxtaposed with children's toys, a bloodied taxidermy specimen, pink flamingo "yard art," an American flag, toy soldiers, and two "artworks" representing home and family: a photograph, and a child's drawing. Konrad's cool detachment paradoxically manages to convey a subtle yet powerful message about patriotism, consumerism, and American ideologies.

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