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 Joseph Kleitsch  (1882 - 1931)

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Lived/Active: California / Hungary      Known for: painting-sea-landscape, portrait and interiors

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Ad Code: 1
Joseph Kleitsch
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Ruth Renick (The Jade Necklace)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in the Banat region of Hungary on June 6, 1882, Joseph Kleitsch began painting at age seven and was awarded a scholarship by his village to study art.  He continued his training in Budapest, Munich, and Paris.  By age 17 he was an accomplished portraitist with such sitters as Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1901 and established a studio in Cincinnati; during 1906-07 he was a resident of Denver.  He then traveled to Mexico City where he was the official portraitist to President Madero.  Kleitsch painted portraits of many prominent citizens of Chicago while further studying at the AIC.  Upon moving to California in 1920, he settled in Laguna Beach and, with his wife Edna, established the Kleitsch Academy.

He taught there and was active in the local art scene while exhibiting in Los Angeles at Stendahl and Hatfield galleries. Trips were made to San Francisco, Carmel, and Europe in search of subject matter.  Inspired by the local scenery, he could often be seen in and around Laguna painting street scenes with figures, gardens in bloom, coastals, and landscapes.

Kleitsch died of a heart attack in Santa Ana, CA on Nov. 16, 1931.

Exhibitions:
AIC, 1914 (gold medal); Palette & Chisel Club, 1914-19; Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1922-29; Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1922-23; Leonard's (LA), 1923; Ambassador Hotel (LA), 1924; Biltmore Salon (LA), 1924; Ebell Club (LA), 1924; PAFA, 1925; Pasadena Public Library, 1928; Laguna Beach AA, 1928-30; LACMA, 1933 (memorial).

Collections:
Orange Co. (CA) Museum; Laguna Beach Museum; Irvine (CA) Museum; Federal Bank Bldg. (Laguna).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Plein Air Painters (Ruth Westphal); American Art Annual 1915-33; Art Digest, 4-15-1932; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Antiques & Fine Art, Dec. 1987; Los Angeles Times, 7-23-1922 & 11-22-193l (obituary).
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.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Joseph Kleitsch was considered one of the premier painters in the early California School of Impressionism. Born in Deutsch St. Michael, Banat, Hungary on June 6, 1882, he began painting at the age of seven. After being awarded a scholarship by his village to study art, he continued his training in Budapest, Munich and Paris. Around 1901, he immigrated to Germany and then to Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1905 he moved to Denver. Between 1907 and 1909 he visited and painted in Chicago, Kansas and Mexico City. He was honored in 1912 for his portraits of Mexico's President Francisco Madero and his family.

Around 1914 Kleitsch moved to Chicago where besides painting portraits of many prominent citizens, he taught at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1914 to 1919. While there he joined the Palette and Chisel Club and participated in exhibitions where his new style of painting interior scenes with figures was shown. In 1914 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1920 Joseph and his wife, Edna, moved to Laguna Beach and started the Kleitsch Academy. Although he was at the height of his art career in Chicago, he found the rustic local street scenes in his new home to be extremely inspiring and his painting flourished. He was soon exhibiting his work at Stendahl and Hatfield Galleries in Los Angeles while also making trips to San Francisco, Carmel and Europe in search of the next painting subject. Arthur Millier of the Los Angeles Times was quoted saying of Kleitsch, "He was a born colorist; he seemed to play on canvas with the abandon of a gypsy violinist."

Kleitsch became an avid plein air painter and helped to cofound the Painters' and Sculptors' Club in 1923. It was a men's only group patterned after the Salmagundi Club of New York. They worked with studio models and also had a sketching camp for landscape painting. He was awarded their Silver Medal.

From 1926 to 1929 Joseph returned to Europe, painting in Giverny to experience first hand the inspiration for Monet's works and then traveling on to Hungary and to Spain before returning to Laguna Beach where he had a successful showing at the Stendahl. A few years later Kleitsch died suddenly at the age of 49 from a heart attack.

During his life he was also a member of the Chicago Society of Artists and the Laguna Beach Art Association, which awarded him the Grand Prize and Figure Prize.

Bibliography
1. Fleischer Museum of California
2. Irvine Museum
3. "Plein Air Painters of the Southland" by Ruth Lily Westphal
4. "Artists in California, 1786-1940" by Edan Milton Hughes
5. Laguna Art Museum
6. Los Angeles Times

Biography from Lawrence Beebe Fine Art:
Joseph Kleitsch was born on June 6, 1882 in Banat, Hungary. He trained and studied at schools in Budapest, Munich and Paris. Between 1907 and 1909 he was known to have visited and painted in Mexico City, (Hutchinson) Kansas and Chicago. Mexican President Francisco Madero and his wife honored Kleitsch in 1912 for his commissioned portraits of the royal family.

In 1920 Kleitsch arrived in southern California, deciding to reside in Laguna Beach and Los Angeles. As an avid plein-air painter, he was inspired by the streets and shores of Laguna Beach, and took frequent painting trips to nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano, to northern California's San Francisco and Carmel. Later in his career, in 1925, he traveled to Hungary, Spain and France, and he returned to Laguna Beach in November of 1927.

He has been characterized as a "master of gorgeous color". Arthur Millier, art critic for the "Los Angeles Times", in 1933, said of Kleitsch that he was"a born colorist; he seemed to play on canvas with the abandon of a gypsy violinist". Earlier Anthony Anderson, also an art critic for the "Los Angeles Times" in 1922, was quoted as saying: "Kleitsch has discovered more varieties of loveliness in Laguna Beach than any other artist...he explored little intimate places, he painted quaint old streets with towering eucalyptus, the gardens rioting with bloom, and he introduced feminine figures straying through these charming purlieus...".

During his career, he held memberships at the Chicago Society of Artists, the Laguna Beach Art Association, the Painters' and Sculptors' Club and the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago. He exhibited and then won the Gold Medal at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1914, the Silver Medal at the Painters' and Sculptors' Club and the Grand Prize and Figure Prize at the Laguna Beach Art Association.

Works by Joseph Kleitsch can be found at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, the Irvine Museum, the Fleischer Museum and important private collections.

He died at the early age of forty-nine on November 16, 1931 in Santa Ana, California.

Biography from Kelley Gallery - Pasadena:
Joseph Kleitsch came to the U.S. from Hungary in the early 1900s, settling in California around 1920.  Joseph Kleitsch's works span a broad spectrum of subjects and styles, beginning with early academic pictures consisting of still life, landscape, and genre subjects painted in a late 19th-century manner.  Once in California, Joseph Kleitsch developed a bold, Post-Impressionist style characterized by a high-keyed palette and loose, energetic brush work.  Joseph Kleitsch's subjects continued to include portraits and informal figurative works, along with plein- air landscapes, coastal scenes, genre compositions, and street scenes.

In 1926 Joseph Kleitsch traveled to Europe for a period of nearly two years and produced a similarly eclectic body of work, returning to California in 1928.  The following few years in Joseph Kleitsch's career indicate that he was moving in a direction that was increasingly influenced by emerging modernist trends.  A number of Joseph Kleitsch's post-European works from 1928 onward are marked by a streamlined approach utilizing simplified forms and expressionist distortions. Joseph Kleitsch also broadened his palette at this time, ranging from somber and low-keyed tonalism to a luminescent high-keyed approach. Joseph Kleitsch died in 1931 at the age of 49.

Biography from Edenhurst Gallery (Artists A to L):
Joseph Kleitsch was one of Laguna Beach’s most notable early residents and painters. He was born in Banad, Hungary in 1885, and as a young child began art studies in Budapest, Munich, and Paris.

Excelling at portraiture he was commissioned to paint royalty and dignitaries of his time.  Kleitsch emigrated to Chicago, a destination for many eastern European immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, and there began studies at the Art Institute.

He moved permanently to California in 1920 and settled in Laguna Beach where he established the Kleitsch Academy.  He exhibited regularly with the Stendahl Galleries of Los Angeles, becoming a favorite of the art scene of Southern California.  He made painting trips to San Francisco, Carmel, France and Mexico.

It was in France that he created an important body of work that was sent to Stendahl in the late 1920's.  Initiating his career as an impressionist, Kleitsch eventually pushed his art in the direction of the moderns.  His tendencies to explore newer techniques made him one of the most innovative California Impressionists.

He died untimely in Mexico on a painting excursion in 1931.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
Joseph Kleitsch was born in Hungary in 1881. He began painting at the age of seven, and was given a scholarship to study art by his native village. Kleitsch was afforded study in Budapest, Munich, and Paris. By the age of 17, he was an accomplished portraitist, with sitters such as Franz Josef of Austria.

Furthering his studies in the U.S., Kleitsch painted many prominent local citizens while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. Kleitsch eventually settled in Laguna Beach, California, in 1920, where he established the Kleitsch Academy of Art. His California works, exhibited at the Stendahl Galleries in Los Angeles, were focused on the landscape, gardens, and architecture around his home in Laguna Beach.

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Joseph Kleitsch is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Impressionists Pre 1940
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