Painter, sculptor, and printmaker Carl Lewis Pappe was born in Hungary in 1900, immigrating to the United States as a child. A job as a set designer for a Paramount Studios theater took him to New York in 1929, but the economic effects of the Depression shut down the studio the following year. As with many artists of the time, this meant that Pappe had to scramble for suitable work and innovate when all else failed. He got a job refinishing boats in the Boston harbor and repairing gold leaf on theater ceilings, and started a drawing school for children in the basement of a Masonic Temple, charging 50 cents a week. He eventually traveled to Mexico City, which had become a hub for artists. To make ends meet he worked as a cook and a tour guide, where he met his wife, anthropologist, writer, and silversmith Bernice Goodspeed, also working as a tour guide. They became acquainted with the Taller Grafica Popular, befriending such artists as Jose Orozco, Frida Kahlo, Carlos Merida, Juan O'Gorman, Diego Rivera, Ruffino Tamayo, and others. Pappe found work as a mural painting assistant to Orozco and settled into his new life in Mexico. Pappe's prolific oeuvre included sculpture, pastel, oil painting, watercolor, drawings, and more, and he worked in the genres of realism and abstraction throughout his career.