Thursday, January 26, 2012

Karl Benjamin: Geometric Abstract Artist

(Courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Art/
I often appraise paintings by the California modernists and Karl Benjamin is one of the most interesting of them. He is best known for his revolutionary approach to hard edge painting, working in a style called Geometric Abstraction. Along with Lorser Fietelson, Frederick Hammersley and John McLaughlin, Benjamin and his colleagues exhibited their works in the revolutionary exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Benjamin was born in Chicago and began his art studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. During WWII Benjamin but joined the US Navy but after the war was over, he moved to California where he continued his studies at Southern California’s University of Redlands.

Benjamin began his career as a teacher and moving to the artist colony of Claremont, California in 1952, Benjamin began painting. He taught Pomona College and became involved in the growing modern art movement happening in L.A. including designers, artists, and architects. One of Benjamin’s first important exhibits was entitled Purist Painting at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He also exhibited at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, Columbus Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Benjamin was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts. His paintings are held in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, Israel; Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY among others.

Benjamin is acknowledged as a professional, listed artist and is considered to be an American artist with strong market comparables. Benjamin has produced a substantial body of work, which is commonly traded on the art market. According to our appraisal research, a growing demand exists for Benjamin’s paintings -- although the artist’s work has only recently been demanding high prices as auction and in gallery markets.

Gallery markets tend to demand the highest prices. Benjamin’s is considered an important artist for collectors of California modern art. Auction sales records range from $2,196-$42,700 for paintings, depending on the media, size, condition, subject, and quality. Gallery pricing tends to be much higher.