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Christa Kieffer, 1949 | La Belle Époque

German painter* Christa Kieffer was born in Tubingen, Germany. As a child, her earliest memories are of “soaking up the atmosphere of a particular place or region”. An intuitive kindergarten teacher recognized Kieffer’s potential and provided her with a quiet place to draw and paint. The artist studied extensively throughout Europe then moved to the United States to attend the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.
Working primarily in oil on canvas, Keiffer often used glazes to create a luminous look and feel to her paintings. She is motivated by her perception of the excitement of community in its entire splendor and believes that this experience was most expressive during the Belle Epoque Era in France. Ms. Kieffer traveled to Paris frequently, always rising in the early hours of dawn to walk the boulevards and photograph the enchantment of a city cloaked in the mystery and memories of a glorious past.
My paintings are mostly about the ‘City as Playground’ at a point in time when there seemed to be the perfect balance of excitement and leisure, movement and tranquility, small pleasures in the midst of architectural splendor. The streets and thoroughfares offered the joy of movement and variety to be viewed from an elegant sidewalk café of a stroll down the avenue. Here was the human spectacle in all it exuberance and, yet, the safety of community.
I chose to paint this more gracious time mostly at dusk, the ‘magic hour,’ that span of mellow time between a perfect spring or summer day and the excitement of the coming cosmopolitan nightlife. To me, the transition of light is especially appealing. I get great pleasure out of capturing the effects and juxtaposition of natural and man-made light in an atmosphere of cultural layering”.
Ms. Kieffer lived for many years in California in a small community surrounded by Point Reyes National Park. She passed away after a lingering illness in 2004.