Born in Tampa Florida, Knapp discovered at a very young age that he would earn his living plying some form of art. After attending the local vocational high school in the commercial art program Knapp went immediately into the workforce to a position at a large supermarket chain in the advertising department. It was there that he discovered his fascination with large, boldly colored images that were used to sell things, Close up views of ordinary things made them special…different. They could be seen as art in their own right if only treated as art.
After some study at Hillsborough Community College and USF in the art programs that did not result in a degree, Michael began painting large scale images of common objects and things that people would not take notice of otherwise. Almost an homage to his advertising days, his paintings took on a quality very much like the work of James Rosenquist (a strong influence on Knapp in his early career) Collages of seemingly unrelated items painted in large scale and garish colors became the style Knapp adopted for several years.
As his work progressed he quite unexpectedly discovered the world of huge sprinkler valves on a trip to Baltimore. His fascination with these devices has not waned in over 35 years. This began his “industrial phase” of painting where the work focused mostly on close ups of large mechanical devices or industrial objects. It wasn’t until years later (and after a long hiatus from painting) that Knapp discovered the interesting juxtaposition of adding organic elements in with the industrial ones to create visual tension in the paintings. Knapp also uses competing color combinations and odd compositions to augment the tension in his work to make sure “There is a positive fight going on in each piece”
The end result is Knapp’s current work, man made industrial or commercial items mixed in with common everyday organic subjects.
Knapp’s work has won numerous awards, been shown at the Tampa Museum of Art and is held in a variety of private and corporate collections.
There is beauty everywhere…if you look for it. Many of the everyday things we pass by in our busy lives go unobserved. I see my job as an artist to bring them to the forefront, to make us see what we have previously missed. To make us appreciate the unappreciated.I paint industrial and mechanical items and mix them in various ways with organic materials, often times everyday food items. I explore the common elements that are shared by the objects while introducing tension with my choice of colors and textures. My paintings are large by design. Massive mechanical devices carry a weight that can only be interpreted through art of some scale. My work could be defined as “INDUSTRIAL POP ART”.Someone once asked me…”Why don’t you paint trees? Trees are lovely and would sell”. I replied with a question of my own… “Have you ever seen a beautiful painting of a tree?” The answer was a resounding “Of course!” to which replied…”That’s why I don’t paint them”. My objective is to meld myself with my subject matter. I want those who see the objects I paint to immediately think of my art. Once a viewer begins to see large pipes or mechanical and industrial objects in everyday life and thinks…that reminds me of Michael Knapp’s art…then I have been successful.