About Karl Stirner
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Karl Stirner brings new life to metal that has been discarded, whether from Bethlehem Steel, shipwrecks, or from his favorite scrapyard. He fuses natural materials with manmade, and juxtaposes smooth surfaces with rough and pitted ones to form organic shapes. Stirner creates a drama of contradiction, playing thick against thin, flexible against inflexible.

The German-born Stirner, who grew up in Philadelphia, was fascinated by frogs, birds, insects, crystals and shells. Watching his father work as a fine jeweler got him interested in metal, and he started his art career at age 23. An industrial designer who served in World War II, Stirner held teaching positions at Tyler School of Art at Temple University and at Moore and Swarthmore colleges, although he himself is self-taught. He operated a metal arts studio, designing and making contemporary metal furniture and ecclesiastical items, such as lighting fixtures, altar railings, architectural sculpture, ornamental panels, screens, and lamps.

In 1959 he had a solo show at the Delaware Museum of Art and in 1963 showed 52 engravings at the Philadelphia Print Club. Stirner’s sculpture was put on hold as he raised a family and pursued other business interests, but the interruption fueled his drive and since 1985 more than 400 pieces have come out of his Easton, Pennsylvania, studio. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, Hunterdon Art Museum, Allentown Art Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum and Grounds for Sculpture, among many others.

He has been a mentor to the Easton artists community, and the Karl Stirner Arts Trail was named in his honor.

“He is one of our major artists. We are lucky to have him with us,” said poet Gerald Stern.
Born November 14 in Bad Wildbad,
Germany, youngest of five children,
to Pauline (née Gunn) and Karl Stirner.
Both families were jewelers and

Stirner family immigrates to the United
States (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Dobbins Vocational School (6 – 8 grades),
leaves school in 8th grade. As a boy, is
an avid naturalist and rope climber
(climbing at world-class speed).

Works as an industrial designer. Studies
mechanical engineering for six months,
Drexel Institute of Art, Philadelphia,

Serves in the U.S. Army. In combat zones
in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands.

Operates experimental machine shop,
designs and develops unique precision
machines and other mechanical devices
(including prototypes for a druggist’s
capsule loading machine and a
fisherman’s casting reel)

Operates metal arts studio, designs and
makes contemporary metal furniture
and ecclesiastical items (such as lighting
fixtures, altar railings, architectural
sculpture, ornamental panels, screens,
lamps, sculptural forms, etc.)

Marries Barbara Lund (1936 – 1957)
Instructor, Moore College of Art,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Opens Karl Stirner Ornamental Ironworks,
Germantown, Pennsylvania
Three-person show at Iron Shop,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Group show, The Print Club, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania —awarded the
Lessing J.
Rosenwald Prize
for his woodcut The Forces
of Time

1957– 61
Director, Metal Sculpture Department,
Tyler School of Art, Temple University,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Solo Show, Delaware Museum of Art,
Wilmington, Delaware

Group show, Philadelphia Museum of Art,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Marries Heather Harland, with whom he
has three children: Heather (born 1962),
Noelle (born 1967), and Jonas (born 1970)
Art Instructor, Swarthmore College,
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Solo show of fifty-two engravings,
Philadelphia Print Club, Philadelphia,
Group shows at Museum of Modern
Art, New York, New York; Pennsylvania
Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Museum of
Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1969– 71
Designs and builds houses in Bucks
County, Pennsylvania
Travels to Mexico, studies pre-Columbian
sculpture and architecture

Travels extensively in the U.S. and
Guatemala, Mexico, Italy, France, England,
and Turkey

Group shows at Corcoran Gallery of Art,
Washington, DC; Fort Worth Museum of
Art, Fort Worth, Texas; La Jolla Museum
of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California;
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pratt Graphics
Center, New York, New York

Partner in Hartford Development
Corporation, designing and creating
Hartford Square, an adaptive reuse of a
former industrial property

Co-founder, Stirner-Unangst Gallery,
New York, New York
Lives in Brooklyn, makes many drawings

Moves to Easton, Pennsylvania. In his
“Easton Arts Building,” a former
warehouse and sewing factory at 230 Ferry
St., Stirner establishes his home and opens
the Karl Stirner Gallery, as well as art
studios, a dance studio, and commercial
spaces for development. Over the next
seventeen years, he pioneers the growth
of an arts community in Easton and in
September 2000 is honored by the city
for his successful efforts with the official
declaration of “Karl Stirner Month.”
Curator, “Robert Ranieri,” inaugural
exhibition at Karl Stirner Gallery. Among
other solo exhibitions at the gallery for
which Stirner was the curator are Paul
Matthews (1984), Robert Whitley (1984),
Larry Fink (1984), and Sally Shearer
Swenson (1985).
Meets Gay Elwell

Receives first
Historic Easton
Preservation Award
Co-founder, Easton Auction Company

African Art from the Karl Stirner Collection,
Cedar Crest College, Allentown,
Returns to making art full time
Seventeen-foot monumental sculpture,
Victory, installed at the University of
Connecticut Health Center, Farmington,

Two-person show, Fairleigh Dickinson
University, Hackensack, New Jersey

Solo show, The Gallery at the State Theater
Center for the Arts, Easton, Pennsylvania

Group show, Grounds for Sculpture,
Hamilton, New Jersey

Solo show, Everhart Museum,
Scranton, Pennsylvania

Solo show, Allentown Art Museum,
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Solo show, James A. Michener Art
Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Solo show, Hunterdon Art Museum,
Clinton, New Jersey

First International Steel and Iron Sculpture
Festival in Kaohsiung
, Taiwan
Group show, Janos Pannonius Museum,
Pécs, Hungary

Pratt Institute Sculpture Park,
Brooklyn, New York

Solo show, Allentown Art Museum,
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Solo show, Tufts University Art Gallery,
Medford, Massachusetts

Organizes the exchange exhibition
Meets Easton
, American Art Festival,
Genoa, Italy

Marries Gay Elwell (1958 – 2012)

Dedication of
Karl Stirner Arts Trail in
Easton, Pennsylvania

Solo show, Payne Gallery, Moravian
College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Solo Show, James A. Michener Art
Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania