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Karl Knaths

Clam Diggers

Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and christened Otto, Knaths attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Provincetown, Massachusetts, in May 1919. He exhibited that summer at the Provincetown Art Association as Otto Knaths but by the following year had adopted the name by which he is now known. Provincetown, described as “the biggest art colony in the world” just three years before Knaths’s arrival, long attracted avant-garde writers, actors, and artists in great numbers, and many like Knaths took year-round residence.

Clam Diggers, an undated watercolor likely painted in the early 1940s, reveals the influence of the Provincetown Printers’ white line prints, both in surface appearance and manner of construction. Most striking is Knaths’s jigsaw-like placement of color planes, each laid down broadly with few overlaps, leaving a thin white line between sections of differing hues. His veils of gauzy, transparent color glow with an inner brilliance derived from the paper’s bright surface.

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