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Annette Karnow, 81

Annette Karnow, 81, American Artist and Diplomat, Dies

Artwork by Annette Karnow, also a diplomat, hangs in U.S. consulates around the world and was heavily influenced by time spent in Asia.
Artwork by Annette Karnow, also a diplomat, hangs in U.S. consulates around the world and was heavily influenced by time spent in Asia. (Family Photo)
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Annette Karnow, 81, a world-traveling artist and diplomat, died of cancer and a stroke July 2 at her home in Potomac.

Mrs. Karnow's work was heavily influenced by the years that she and her second husband, Stanley Karnow, a former Time magazine and Washington Post correspondent, spent in Asia. Her art was exhibited in solo and group shows in New York, Washington, Baltimore, Boston and London, and it hangs in U.S. consulates around the world and in the homes of private collectors.

While living in Hong Kong from 1959 to 1969, Mrs. Karnow studied the Japanese arts of ikebana (flower arranging) and origami (paper folding). She also studied Chinese cuisine and practiced Chinese scroll painting with master Chow Chian-chin.

"Chinese and Japanese art profoundly affect life," she wrote. "Their influence is manifest in a perception of nature that in the abstract are the quintessence of nature itself."

Annette Kline was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and circled the world as a child with her father, who worked for a Japanese shipping company, and her stepmother. She was educated in Switzerland, England and New York and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She received a master's degree in art therapy from George Washington University in the mid-1970s.

Mrs. Karnow studied art history at American University and attended seminars at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Her first husband, Jack Andrew, a Foreign Service officer, died in Vietnam in 1955.

Mrs. Karnow became a cultural attaché with the U.S. State Department in France and organized tours of the provinces for jazz musician Sidney Bechet, conductor Leonard Bernstein, violinists Jascha Heifetz and Itzhak Perlman, the Harlem Globetrotters and the New York Philharmonic.

While assigned to Paris, she lived on a houseboat on the Seine, across from the Palais Bourbon and the Place de la Concorde. When she transferred to Algiers, she met her second husband, Stanley Karnow. They married in 1959 in Gibraltar.

In addition to her husband of Potomac, survivors include a son from her first marriage, Curtis Edward Karnow of San Rafael, Calif., who was adopted by her second husband; two children from her second marriage, Catherine Karnow of Mill Valley, Calif., and Michael Karnow of Los Angeles; and two grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan


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