Stefan Knapp is best known for his vibrant enamel murals which can be seen in many museums and public buildings throughout the world. He was the first artist to experiment with enamel on steel on a large scale.
In 1939, when he was eighteen, Knapp was imprisoned and sent to a labour camp in Siberia. This imprisonment, as well as his experience as a RAF Spitfire pilot between 1942-45, was to have a profound effect on his artistic development - he used painting as a way to exercise his mind. After the war, based in London, Knapp joined the Central School of Arts & Crafts, and later, the Slade. As a student, he experimented with all manners of painting, printing and plastic mediums as well as sculpture and enamels. Following the Slade, one of his first major commissions was for a set of seventeen murals for Heathrow Airport, followed closely by a commission in America for an enamel mural (200 x 50ft), the largest he ever made, for the Alexander's store in Paramus, New Jersey, which became a landmark for J.F.K. Airport.
He became more involved in the process of adapting and perfecting enamelling methods for steel instead of the traditional copper, and found that his style of painting was changing and becoming more abstract and his colours brighter. Between 1954 and 1968 he showed at least once a year, with nineteen one man shows in galleries and five in international museums.
By 1970, he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to make further studies into the origin, development and practice of murals and enamels travelling to Mexico, Guatemala, Japan, India and Iran. In the late 1970s Knapp finally settled in the countryside, where he had already constructed his large furnace for firing enamels and continued to paint and experiment with enamels and sculpture. On the 12th October 1996, just two days after overseeing the re-installation of his 1960's Heathrow Murals in the new Richard Rogers Transit building, and three days after he completed a mural The Battle of Britain for the Polish metro in Warsaw, Knapp suffered a massive heart attack and died in his studio.