Skip to main content

Kenneth Callahan (1905 - 1986)


Blending surrealism and abstract expressionism, Kenneth Callahan emerged as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most important cultural figures in the 1930s. The artist made several trips down the west coast, stopping to capture the landscapes and people of California, Mexico, and Central America.

By 1932, Callahan was Curator of the Seattle Art Museum, a post he would hold for the next two decades. Between 1935 and 1945, he was commissioned to paint several murals in Washington state, under President Roosevelt’s Treasury Section of Fine Arts. Along with Mark Tobey (1890-1976), Guy Anderson (1906-1998), and Morris Graves (1910-2001), Callahan founded the Northwest School – a loose affiliation of artists, sharing a similar color palette and subject matter, operating out of the Seattle region in the 1930s and 40s.

He has exhibited across the country, from San Francisco to Chicago, Philadelphia to Washington DC. Today, his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Chicago Art Institute, Washington State University, University of Washington, Seattle Art Museum, and the Portland Art Museum, among others.