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John Franklin Koenig:
Northwest Master, Home and Away

Whatcom Museum
Bellingham WA – Mar 25-Aug 24, 2008

John Franklin Koenig - Ode to the Delphic Oracle

John Franklin Koenig, Ode to the Delphic Oracle (1988) mixed-media collage on paper [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Mar 25-Aug 24]

Northwest Master, Home and Away features the life and art of Seattle native John Franklin Koenig (1924-2008) in a retrospective exhibition.

Koenig had over 200 solo shows internationally throughout his prolific career. His life's journey was similarly rich. Koenig frequently travelled to then-foreign places like Japan, Africa and the Middle East. He embraced such principles as shibui, a Japanese word referring to simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. He also applied the spirit of Bauhaus to his artwork, writing, conversation and gardening. Koenig settled in Paris after WWII before returning to the Pacific Northwest. In 1979. His experiences and injuries in the war taught him about the fragility of life and affected his very personal approach to artmaking.

John Franklin Koenig - Ode à Prokofieff

John Franklin Koenig, Ode à Prokofieff (1953) acrylic on canvas [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Mar 25-Aug 24]

John Franklin Koenig - D'Aristophane book cover

John Franklin Koenig, D'Aristophane book cover (c.1950s) mixed media collage on book cover [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Mar 25-Aug 24]

Although Koenig was known mostly for his large-scale paintings and lyrical abstractions, his artistic experimentation led him to work with other media like collage, printmaking, glass work, photography, fabric design, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. Koenig began splitting his time between France and Seattle in the early 1980s. His work consistently retained such elements familiar to the Northwest region as soft iridescent light and dramatic skies.

As an artist Koenig was relatively autonomous. The retrospective highlights Koenig's approach to art, where the journey was more important than the goal, and where boundaries between art and life dissolved. Covering 50 years of his career, this survey includes glimpses into Koenig's studio, works in progress, sketches, quotes and documentation. The exhibit is accompanied by a colour catalogue.


Allyn Cantor

 Thu, Apr 3, 2008