Standing 22″ high on its wooden pedestal, this powerful sculpture is a rare example of non-figurative work from the artist Carl Pappe. Hungarian born, US educated, and a lifelong (and long-lived) resident of Mexico, Pappe embodies many of the artistic currents of the twentieth century.
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Carl Pappe (1900-1998) was born in Hungary and came to the U.S. at the age of 11, where his family settled in Ohio. As a young man, Peppe studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. During the early years of the Great Depression, he struggled as a theater scene designer and furniture maker in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia before moving to Mexico City in 1932.
With his wife, author and sometime silversmith Bernice Goodspeed, he eventually established a studio and opened a gallery in Taxco in the Sierra Madre Mountains southwest of Mexico City, where he spent much of the rest of his life. Peppe was close friends with many of leading 20th century Mexican muralists, painters, and sculptors including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Carlos Merida, Juan O’Gorman, Ruffino Tamayo, and Jose Orozco. While he established his reputation as a post-impressionist landscape artist, over his long life Peppe’s work increasingly became more abstract, influenced by the whimsical line drawings of Klee as well as cubist abstractions to be seen in indigenous Nahuatl petroglyphs.
Peppe leaves a body of work in many media including oil, pastel, watercolor, metal sculpture, pencil and ink drawings, woodcuts, and etchings. He also illustrated his wife’s books of Mexican fables. Collections of Carl Peppe’s work reside in several Mexican art museums, the Library of Congress, Philadelphia’s Woodmere Art Museum, and in private collections.