Karl Zerbe

American, 1903-1972

Archaic Figure

Gouache and pastel on rice paper

Born in Germany, Zerbe immigrated to the United States in the 1930s.  He taught at Harvard, and later became the Head of Painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he deeply influenced the trajectory of Boston’s twentieth-century artistic legacy.  He became a leading figure of the Boston Figurative Expressionists, teaching many of the artists who came to be associated with the movement.  In his own work Zerbe was a German Expressionist, influenced by Max Beckmann and Oscar Kokoschka. As a teacher, Zerbe stressed technical discipline among his students, but also encouraged experimentation with materials, imagination, and expressive imagery—all hallmarks of Boston Expressionism.

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Bernstein, 2010.5