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Skirball Cultural Center

Get lost in the organic forms and vibrant colors of paintings by Peter Krasnow, whose works are inspired by his Jewish heritage and the shining optimism of Southern California.


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About the Exhibition

Get lost in the organic forms and vibrant colors of paintings by Peter Krasnow, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who spent more than half a century living and working in Atwater Village, Los Angeles. His works are inspired by the language and folktales of his Jewish heritage, the plant life of his home and studio, and the shining optimism of Southern California.

This exhibition, drawn from the Skirball Cultural Center’s extensive Krasnow collection, focuses on the artist’s postWorld War II paintings, which come to life with mysterious, dancing forms in candy-colored hues. Krasnow felt the need to convey a message of resilience to help the world recover from a chapter of despair. His paintings from this post-war period responded to a dark, chaotic time with a powerful antidote: joy, color, and life. 

About Peter Krasnow

Peter Krasnow (b. 1886, Novograd Volynsk, Ukraine—d. 1979, Atwater Village, Los Angeles) was a significant figure in Southern California modern art. Krasnow began his artistic career painting signs in his father’s shop and after immigrating to the United States in 1907, studied art in settlement houses and ultimately graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1915. After five years in New York City, he moved to Atwater Village in Los Angeles in 1922 where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Whitney Studio Club; the Los Angeles Museum (now LACMA); the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; the Pasadena Art Institute (now the Norton Simon Museum); the Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College (predecessor to the Skirball Cultural Center); and the Laguna Art Museum. Krasnow’s paintings and sculptures have also been included in group exhibitions at the III Bienal of São Paulo; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 


When tragedy was at the deepest point, my paintings breathed joy and lightcolor structures instead of battle scenes, symmetry to repair broken worlds. A means of protest to ease the pain.”—Peter Krasnow

Donor Support

Peter Krasnow: Breathing Joy and Light and its related educational programs at the Skirball Cultural Center are made possible by generous support from the following donor:

Skirball Cultural Center Volunteer Service Council