With Gabor Peterdi and Mauricio Lasansky, Karl Schrag was among the most important printmakers in America during the 1950s. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Schrag first studied art in Geneva. He continued his artistic training in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and with printmaker Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 from 1932 until the outbreak of World War II. At that time he came to the United States. In New York, he further developed as a printmaker, studying at the Art Students League and working at the studio, Atelier 17, established by Hayter in 1941 as a counterpart of his Paris workshop. When Hayter returned to France, Schrag became director of etching at Atelier 17 until 1951. The artist later joined the faculty of Cooper Union in New York and taught there until 1968.
Schrag's earliest prints are cityscapes that celebrate the vitality of New York. His landscapes were inspired by trips to Maine, Mexico, Spain, and Florida. In the 1960s Schrag also made portraits.