Carl Krafft
(1884–1938)

Carl Rudolph Krafft was born in 1884 in Reading, Ohio. His artistic training began in the early 1900s at the Art Institute of Chicago. He enrolled in both day and evening courses and studied with such instructors as Harry M. Walcott, Edward Vysekal, and Antonin Sterba. Kraftt became a prolific painter of landscapes and genre scenes. Eventually, he moved to Oak Park, just outside Chicago, where he opened his studio and also started the Oak Park Art League. Krafft founded the league in 1919, when concern about the First World War trumped any interest in art. A group of artists began to gather informally at Krafft’s home and by 1921 they formally founded the art league. At a time when lectures and artistic demonstrations were not readily available, the Oak Park Art League provided its members with a forum to discuss such issues. In addition to founding this league, Krafft was also a founding member of Municipal Art League, Springfield, Missouri, The Society of Painters of the Forest Preserve, and The Society of Ozark Painters.

Kraftt was dubbed “painter poet of the Ozarks,” and the timeless beauty of his works certainly gives greater meaning to this title. He, like Daniel Garber, loved the area in which he lived and painted it lovingly over the course of his career. However, Krafft ultimately rejected his title, as he wanted his work to have more universal resonance. Krafft received many honors during his lifetime and belonged to many artistic organizations.  Perhaps one of the more telling examples of his cultural relevance comes from the fact that during the Great Depression many of the artist's works were copied and sold as originals. As a way to combat this problem, Krafft began placing his thumbprint next to his signature.