Artists of Cape Ann: A 150 Year Tradition
by Kristian Davies
1896 - 1953
Though less is known of Kautzky's career than some of his contemporaries, he made a profound impact both on Cape Ann and nationally. His book, Ways with Watercolor, published in 1949 was one of the best selling instructional books of its kind. It has also been regarded as one of the first comprehensive works on the watercolor medium produced after World War II, used by both students and art teachers alike. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Kautzky studied architecture at the Royal University of Hungary and, after receiving his degree, made his way to the United States in 1923. He taught at the Pratt Institute, New York University and at the University of Pennsylvania and became a U.S. citizen in 1929. Kautzky was a master of watercolor-his control and ability to render textures, colors, light reflection and tone with one spontaneous but perfectly placed stroke is uncanny. Painted in 1950, Tidal Flats, is an extraordinary example of
this skill. Kautzky's image is nothing short of mesmerizing. Working with a careful consideration of light reflection, the picture's monochromatic fields of blue become hypnotic. Without tapping into any of the usual social or political subjects that 'make people think,' Kautzky creates an image that inspires contemplation. He shows the viewer a cerebral, almost cosmic setting that seems so otherworldly that to describe it as simply a coastal picture would seem too baroque, too simple a description. The boat looks almost marooned on an alien planet, set amidst a landscape that is neither liquid nor solid, veiled in darkness yet full of light, absent and barren yet still full of the richness of nature. Kautzky spent more than a decade on Cape Ann. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, the Rockport Art Association, the North Shore Arts Association and the American Watercolor Society, among many others. He won numerous awards for his pictures.
(above: The Hannah Jumper House, watercolor, 22 X 30 inches, Private Collection. Photo courtesy of Davies Fine Arts)
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Note: Only one of the pictures accompanying the above selected biography from the book is included here.
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