HAROLD KRISEL, MID-CENTURY HARD-EDGE ABSTRACTION

Harold Krisel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1920. He studied architecture in Chicago at the New Bauhaus from 1946-1949 on the G.I. Bill after he was discharged from the army where he served from 1942-1945. Just 26 at the time he had been interested in art since studying in New York in the 1930s with Carl Holty and Harry Holtzman. He became a member of American Abstract Artists in 1946, and retained this membership for the duration of his life. In 1942 he married Rose Breuer and the couple had three daughters.Krisel completed his graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1952.

His many influences there helped direct his course of study and his career path. Founder Lazlo-Nagy had just stepped down and the new director, Serge Chermayeff, recognized something special in this new student and committed to his education as an architect. Krises met famed artist Mondrian and developed friendships with Gyorgy Kepes, who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT; Martin Rosenzweig, noted graphic designer; and Harold Cohen the distinguished designer and architect.

After completing graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1952, Krisel taught briefly at MIT. Then he and Rose returned home to New York, where he pursued an architecture career, first with Kahn and Jacobs and later with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. During this period, he declined offers he felt would be disruptive to his young family. An invitation from Buckminster Fuller to work on the development of the geodesic dome required moving to Canada. An offer to teach at Harvard would have meant another move.

 

He was also commissioned to create murals for the new Greenville/Spartanburg Airport, championed by Milliken and built in 1962 to support this burgeoning area.
While Krisel was working with famed architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, from 1955-1965, Millken hired the firm to design his new headquarters building in Spartanburg. Krisel designed tapestries and carpets for the project as well as a dramatic 26,000 square foot aereation pond with a striking stainless steel spray fountain. In 1955 he met his primary patron, Roger Milliken, principal of Milliken and Co., one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world. Krisel was commissioned to design a 26,000 square foot aeration pond for Millikens headquarters.

Krisel worked as an architect at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill until 1966, when he joined the faculty of the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan where he taught architecture until his retirement in 1981.

Once retired, Krisel pursued his life long dream of dedicating himself full time to the fine arts, where he worked on commissioned sculpture, fountains, and graphics in his studio in Bridgehampton, New York where he designed his own house. There he befriended artists Ibram lassaw and Perle Fine and he showed at the Elaine Benson Gallery. A committed family man, Krisel remained distant from the East End arts scene. In 1995 he died of Alzheimer’s disease.Krisel is represented in the collections of numerous museums including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Houston Museum of Art, British Museum in England, Bibliotheque National in Paris, Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has also completed numerous public commissions such as a mural for the Greenville/Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina.

 

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