Theme/Style – Modernism, still lifes
Media – Oils
Artistic Focus – Known primarily as a writer on the subject of antiques and decorating, Katharine Kahle began as a painter, and a very good one. A member of the cutting-edge artist group, the “San Diego Moderns,” in the early 1930s, she made her mark with works that revealed her strength, confidence, and originality, as well as a strong sense of design and color.
Career Highlights –
- Born Katharine Morrison in San Francisco in 1899, and raised in the California town of Winters, Katharine was the daughter Robert Morrison (a Winters pioneer) and artist Leila Perry Morrison, with whom she studied painting. She received a B.A. degree from Stanford University in 1921, followed by a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1922.
- Morrison married attorney Richard Kahle in 1923, and they settled in San Diego, where as Katharine Kahle she became an active and committed member of the local art community, as a painter, writer, and lecturer.
- One of her first books was “An Outline of Period Furniture,” published in 1929; and Kahle also wrote articles on antiques for magazines such as Keramic Studio, House Beautiful, and California Southland. Kahle also contributed art reviews to the San Diego Sun newspaper, and by the mid-1930s was also writing home and garden articles for the Los Angeles Times.
- During this time Kahle also lectured in Art and Interior Decoration in San Diego art circles, as well as for the University of California Extension; and was also an instructor at the San Diego Academy of Fine Arts, the organizer of a section in Art Appreciation for the city’s branch of the American Association of Society Women, and a member of the San Diego Visual Artists Guild.
- Kahle became a close friend of the San Diego Modernist painter Margot (Margaret) King Rocle, joining a circle of couples including the Kahles, Margot and Marius Rocle, Everett and Eileen Jackson, and Ivan and Evelyn Messenger. Katharine and Margot traveled to Mexico together in 1931, and in 1932 a group of progressive artists, seeking an outlet for their work, formed the San Diego Moderns. The members included Kahle, Everett Jackson, Ivan Messenger, and the Rocles; as well as Dorr Bothwell, Donal Hord, and Ruth Ortlieb.
- In February 1933, the San Diego Moderns had their first exhibition at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, at which Margot Rocle exhibited her “Portrait of Katharine Morrison Kahle.”
- Kahle both exhibited and served on the women’s executive board of San Diego’s California Pacific International Exposition in 1935, and also was general chairman of the group that supplied the exposition’s public areas with flower arrangements.
- Also in 1935, Katharine’s marriage to Richard Kahle ended in divorce, and later that year she married Harold McClinton, a Ford Company executive who had been sent to San Diego to manage their exhibit at the Exposition.
- Soon moving to New York City with her husband, Katharine Morrison McClinton concentrated on writing and lecturing, publishing a total of more than 30 books on antiques and collecting and writing articles for the New York Times and other publications for the remainder of her life.
- Katharine Morrison Kahle’s work is in the collection of the San Diego Historical Society. She passed away in New York City in 1993.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.