CHRONOLOGY


1925

Born in Chicago, Illinois, December 29.

1946

Moves to Redlands, California.

1943-1946

Serves in the U.S. Navy.

1949

Marries Beverly Paschke, January.

Earns Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, History & Philosophy from University of Redlands, California.

Begins teaching a sixth grade class at Cedar Street Elementary School in Bloomington, California.


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1950

First daughter, Beth Marie, is born September 19.

After becoming interested in the art that his students created, Benjamin makes initial attempts at his own paintings.  Working in isolation, he replicates artistic styles he admires, seeking inspiration from art books and magazines.

1951

Moves to Claremont, California with his family.  Attends Claremont Graduate School at Scripps College with assistance from the G.I. Bill.

1953

Resumes teaching in Chino, California; teaches elementary school continuously until 1979.

Second daughter Kris Ellen is born March 25.

1954

First major solo show at the Pasadena Art Museum.  The exhibition features abstract works inspired by nature, as well as modernist landscapes and still-lifes. Benjamin is later inspired to move towards geometric abstraction in his work.

1955

First son Bruce Lincoln is born March 12.

Moves into his current home in Claremont, a mid-century modern post and beam house designed by Fred McDowell.

1955-1959

Benjamin’s work becomes less referential and more abstract as he integrates architectural and biomorphic forms and hard lines.  Period includes “Totem Groups” and “Plant Forms” series.

1959

Featured in seminal exhibition “Four Abstract Classicists” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Curated by Jules Langsner, the show also included artists Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, and John McLaughlin. Langsner coins the term “Hard Edge” to refer to the forms apparent in the work of the Abstract Classicists. The exhibition opens at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, travels to the Los Angeles County Museum, and later to London and Belfast under a different title, “West Coast Hard Edge.”

1960

After a five-year period of part-time attendance, Benjamin earns a Master’s of Art from Claremont Graduate School.  Artist and CGS Professor Jean Ames proves integral to his studies.


Karl Benjamin in his studio with 4 year-old daughter Beth, 1955.

Karl Benjamin in his studio with 4 year-old daughter Beth, 1955.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, painting "Green Moon with Windows," 1957.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, painting "Green Moon with Windows," 1957.

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Painting Periods


1960-1961

“Tape-Grid” and “Vertical Stripes” series

1961-1962

“Floating Structures” series

1964-1965

“Alphabet” series

1966-1973

Series of elaborate grid paintings using triangle patterns.

1974-1975

Simplified rectangular forms featuring unique color palettes.

1976-1981

“Stripes”

1981-1986

Intricate, geometric patterns


Karl Benjamin in his studio, 1964.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, 1964.

Karl Benjamin at Chaffey College, 1969.

Karl Benjamin at Chaffey College, 1969.

Karl Benjamin in his studio with “#18”, 1964.

Karl Benjamin in his studio with “#18”, 1964.


1979-1996

Professor of Art and Resident Artist of drawing and painting at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University.

1983

Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts.

1988-1989

Karl Benjamin: A Retrospective, 1955-1987 opens at the Shasta College Art Gallery, Redding, California, and travels to University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, and California State University Northridge.

1989

Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts.


Karl Benjamin at the Claremont Graduate School Alumni dinner, 1986.

Karl Benjamin at the Claremont Graduate School Alumni dinner, 1986.

Karl Benjamin and Frederick Hammersley at L.A. Louver during Hammersley's solo exhibition  Rules and Expectations , February 1981.

Karl Benjamin and Frederick Hammersley at L.A. Louver during Hammersley's solo exhibition Rules and Expectations, February 1981.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, circa 1984.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, circa 1984.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, 1987. Photo by Gary Colby.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, 1987. Photo by Gary Colby.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, circa 1984.

Karl Benjamin in his studio, circa 1984.


1990

Major solo exhibition A Ten-Year Survey at The Art Galleries of Claremont Graduate School.

1991-1992

Major solo exhibition Karl Benjamin: Paintings 1955-1990 organized by Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica and Snyder Fine Art, New York.

1996-2012

Professor Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University.

2007-2009

Prominently featured in national traveling exhibition organized by the Orange County Museum of Art, “Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Mid-Century.”

2007

Major solo exhibition Dance the Line: Paintings by Karl Benjamin at Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood.

Major solo exhibition A Conversation With Color:  Karl Benjamin, Paintings 1953 – 1995 at Claremont Museum of Art.

2008

Major solo exhibition The Vibrant Edge: Paintings of Karl Benjamin from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

2009

Major solo exhibition Karl Benjamin: Paintings and Installation at The Art Galleries of Claremont Graduate University.

2011

Major solo exhibition Karl Benjamin and the Evolution of Abstraction, 1950-1980 at Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood.


Karl Benjamin, 2007.

Karl Benjamin, 2007.

Karl and Beverly Benjamin in the artist’s studio in front of “Tape Grid #27”, 1961, now in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. 2006.

Karl and Beverly Benjamin in the artist’s studio in front of “Tape Grid #27”, 1961, now in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. 2006.


2011-2012

Extensively featured in the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles, 1945-1980. 

Exhibits in major shows including Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1945-1970 at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Arts Center.

2012

Exhibits in The 186th Annual Exhibition at the National Academy Museum of New York. 

Exhibits in Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 

Dies July 26, 2012 in Claremont, California.


Karl Benjamin with his wife, Beverly Benjamin.

Karl Benjamin with his wife, Beverly Benjamin.

Karl Benjamin and "Macho" in the artist's studio, circa 1990,

Karl Benjamin and "Macho" in the artist's studio, circa 1990,

Karl Benjamin with his daughter, Beth Benjamin.

Karl Benjamin with his daughter, Beth Benjamin.