Walter Krawiec

Running Away with the Circus: Works on Paper from the 1920s-1940s


September 30th - October 29th, 2010

Born in 1889, Walter Krawiec Sr. was an accomplished painter, illustrator and political cartoonist active in Chicago during the early Twentieth Century. Krawiec immigrated to America from his native Poland at the age of three, settling with his family in Chicago in 1892. He pursued an interest in painting and began his studies at the School of the Art Institute with the noted instructor Ralph Elmer Clarkson. While at the Art Institute, he fell in love and married fellow artist Harriet Korzienewsky. The two would become a renowned artist team among the city’s artistic circles. Walter Krawiec joined the staff of Chicago’s Polish Daily News, where he created numerous editorial illustrations and political cartoons with a fine line and keen, acerbic wit. Working for the newspaper provided a steady source of income during the Depression years of the 1930s, and allowed the artist to pursue his passion for painting. From 1920s through the 1940s Krawiec gained national acclaim for his vibrant views of the American Scene, painting in a Realist technique the unvarnished, everyday images of common Americans at work or at play. He had a particular interest in painting circuses and carnivals, and his vibrant images of Ringling Brothers and other regional circuses gained him considerable success and critical praise. Krawiec likewise enjoyed painting horses, and was drawn to capturing the excitement of Chicago’s popular horse races and polo matches. His images of factories, freight yards and railroads exemplify the gritty aesthetic of the American Machine Age. Krawiec exhibited nationally at the prestigious Annual Exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery and the Carnegie Institute. He exhibited nineteen pictures at the Annual shows of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1949.

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