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 Benjamin Karp  (1906 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: sculptor-abstract portrait

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A portrait sculptor born in Syracuse, New York, Benjamin Karp was a summa cum laude graduate in physics from Syracuse University. He was on his way to Heidelberg, Germany, to continue his studies when he stopped off in Paris. A year later, still in Paris, he had dropped his interest in science and embarked on a career as an artist.

He apprenticed himself to the American sculptor Jo Davidson and studied with the metalist Marec Szwarc. The art critic Leo Stein, brother of Gertrude Stein, praised Mr. Karp's work and compared his drawings with Picasso's.

In the early 1930's Mr. Karp returned to the United States and pursued his interest in portraiture, working with stone, clay and bronze castings to create a number of powerful, sensitively rendered busts. One of his works in bronze was a much- admired portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mr. Karp was also fascinated by the wooden ornamentation, or gingerbread decoration, on old houses in upstate New York. He spent several years photographing this vanishing legacy of early America and published his work in a book, "Wood Motifs in American Architecture."

Karp, having earned a master's degree in art education from New York University, taught for more than twenty years in the New York State university system.

He died at age 94 at his home in Hoosick Falls, New York. His wife, Vivian Fine was a composer who wrote modernist scores for Martha Graham and Jos Limón, also died in 2000.



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