Monthly Archives: July 2012

Arthur Kraft 1972 “Don Quixote” Lithograph

Title: “Don Quixote”
Date: 1972
Lithograph – Edition of 250
Dimensions: 18″ X 22 1/2″ each

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Carter Art Center 2003 Exhibition “Rediscovering Arthur Kraft”

Photos from the 2003 exhibition “Rediscovering Arthur Kraft” at the Carter Art Center, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, Missouri.

The exhibition was curated by Sherman Reed Anderson Ph.D.

Dr. Anderson also curated “The Art and Words of Arthur Kraft” for the Albrecht-Kemper Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri in 2002.




In support of the Arthur Kraft Scholarship, the FRIENDS of the Carter Art Center along with the MCC Foundation are selling original Arthur Kraft “Tree of Life” lithographs for $150. Lithographs are signed by Arthur Kraft and numbered.

To purchase one for your collection visit the Carter Art Center or click here for ordering information:




The Carter Center for Visual Arts

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“Kansas City Artist, Arthur Kraft, Dies” Obituary From September 29, 1977

Arthur M. Kraft…working to end

The Kansas City Times obituary – September 29, 1977

Kansas City Artist, Arthur Kraft, Dies

Arthur M. Kraft, Kansas City artist, died yesterday at the Veterans Hospital in Topeka.

Kraft 55, was born in Kansas City and had lived here most of his life except for a short period in New York and World War II service with the Army Air Forces.

A painter and a sculptor in clay and metal, Kraft had shown his work in London, Paris and Rome and in numerous exhibitions here and in other cities in this country. He was best known here for such works as the mosaic at the entrance to the Children’s Library at the Kansas City Public Library and the bronze fountain in the arcade at the Commerce Towers but he left his mark through such creations as a 10-ton laughing elephant at a Detroit shopping center, penguins at a center in Indianapolis and a trio of walruses for a Cleveland center.

Friends described him as an overly generous man, one who loved to play practical jokes on people and to help others, a man who kept his sense of humor even through a long hospital treatment for cancer. Kraft had continued working despite his illness, completing a mural for the hospital waiting room before he died.

Kraft had struggled in recent years with health problems friends said were triggered by injuries suffered in an assault in 1959.

In 1946 Kraft won the Audubon Artist Society national painting award for a painting, “New York as Seen by a Casual Observer Through My Great Aunt Jennifer’s Ouija Board.” In 1948 he had a 1-man show of paintings at the Seligmann Gallery in New York, where critics were generous in praise, referring to his “uncanny talent.” In 1954 he was named by the Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in America.

The late Thomas Hart Benton is reported to have said of Kraft’s early work: “He has better technique than I do if he’d only work harder at it.”

Kraft began painting when he borrowed a friend’s watercolor set at the age of five —without asking. When he was 13 he sold about 200 decorated matchboxes and several oil portraits at the Plaza Art Fair. The portraits showed such maturity that officials questioned whether the boy had done them.

His first formal training in art came in Saturday morning classes at the Nelson Gallery of Art. He graduated from Southwest High School and attended the Kansas City Art Institute for a semester, then entered the School of Fine Arts at Yale University, where he became art editor of the Yale Record. He joined the Army in 1943 and returned to Yale in 1946 to finish his degree.

Artwork by Arthur Kraft while art editor at The Yale Record

(Pub: March 1942 | October 1942)   (Image Copyright The Yale Record)

Kraft’s loose relationship with money was almost legend. He went from payed his rent with a painting one month to comparative wealth the next upon being commissioned to do a mural or sculpture.

“I just want to be left alone to create,” he once said, “I don’t have any sense of money.” On another occasion when a new acquaintance kept talking about money, Kraft said: “My dear sir, you should refrain from making noises like an IBM machine.”

Although he was not a joiner his interest in helping others surfaced in volunteer work for the Kansas City Philharmonic and the United Cerebral Palsy campaign and he donated paintings to the annual auction of KCPT-TV, Channel 19.

He leaves his mother, Mrs. Mildred Kraft, and a brother, George Kraft, both of Horseshoe Bend, Ark., and two half sisters, Mrs. Annette Luyben, 9625 High Drive, Leawood, and Miss Mary Josephine Kraft.

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Arthur Kraft Original Poem From 1971

Thank you, dear thing I cannot call you human, or animal, or rock, or leaf, or element; I can call you universe. You have created us as angels – we are your angels – you have equipped us with all that is necessary to understand, but somehow we do not understand. We have tried, memory is a blessed quality.

You have given us everything to make this whisper in time a perfect paradise.

Truly the forces for bad are as strong as are those for good.

It revolves around such a simple emotion known as love, and laughter, and whimsey; but the most important one of these is love.

   – Arthur Kraft 1971

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Arthur Kraft 1979 Newspaper Article Featuring The Court of the Penguins

Star Magazine article by Georgia Kidd – December 2, 1979

Chic – Chic Piece

Sheep Piece by Henry Moore

Sculpture in public places is a continuing pleasure to the passerby (“Sheep Piece” is a great example) and it’s one of the things that has marked the development sponsored by the JC Nichols Co. It always gives us good things to look at. It’s easy not to think of the Nichols Co. as a public service organization when it is so visibly a commercial enterprise, but it must be said that it builds what it builds with real style and an attention to quality that few other folks would even think of putting into shopping centers. That style and quality is a community service.

The Court of the Penguins is a fine example. For sheer chic, you can’t beat these shops – a little Gucci here, some Crabtree & Evelyn there. But while most of the best things in life aren’t free, as the shops show us, some of the best things in the Court of the Penguins are: the Penguins themselves and their environment, which doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy.

The Penguins are five-foot bronze reproductions of miniatures, which originally stood at three to four inches tall by the late Arthur Kraft, a local artist famous for, among other things, the mural at Westport Bank, the mosaic mural at the Children’s Library and the sculpture in the garden at Commerce Bank.

Kraft’s work had a whimsical side (he once did an elephant on its back for a shopping center), and he particularly liked penguins. Three identical sets of these penguins were made and are in private collections in this area.

For admiring the bronze birds and their surroundings, there are three mahogany benches given to the Plaza customers by the Plaza Executive Business Women’s Club. Also look closely at the tile that pictures a pyramid of penguins, with a nice touch of humor, Miller Nichols had the initials of members of the Nichols Co. board of directors put onto the penguins with the premier penguin perched on the pile marked, of course, M.N.

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