Ellen Kuhn was born into a Jewish family in Munich, Germany on 20 April 1937. In August 1939 she fled with her family to New York, catching the last Holland-American line ship. They settled in Harlem, and she attended her first life-drawing class aged eight. As a teenager she studied at the University of Wisconsin, completing a masters in fine art at Berkeley. After meeting and marrying scientist John Charap in San Francisco, the couple moved to England, settling in London. Her work ranged from commercial printing to abstract expressionism, deriving from her period in New York. During the 1960s, she also produced work that drew on civil unrest including the war in Vietnam. In England, she painted London's busy streets and monuments, and at night became fascinated by the transition of the River Thames into a world of abstract colour and form. One of the most fruitful times in her creative life was at The Place Theatre, where in the 1980s, she attended rehearsals, drawing the dancers in action. She worked fast in coloured chalk and pencils, with free gestures and later made more ambitious works based on photographs she had taken in situ. She taught at the Henrietta Barnett School, the London College of Furniture and Camden Arts Institute. She first exhibited at Ben Uri in the Annual Summer Exhibition in 1964, and also had a joint exhibition at Ben Uri with Belinda Harding in 1983. She also taught at the Henrietta Barnett School, the London College of Furniture and Camden Arts Institute. She lived in Hampstead and after a long illness, she died there on 10 July 2013. Her work is also represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum.





  • Henrietta Barnett School (teacher)
  • London College of Furniture (teacher)
  • Camden Arts Institute (teacher)



  • Ellen Charap, Art Bermondsey Gallery, London (2014)
  • Dancing at The Place. An Art Exhibition by Ellen Charap, The Place Theatre, London (2013)
  • Group exhibition, Printroom, Hampstead Village (2006)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (1988, 1985)
  • Belinda Harding, Paintings, Collages and Drawings – Ellen Kuhn, Pastels, Drawings and Prints, Ben Uri Art Gallery (1983)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (1982)
  • Gallery 273, Queen Mary College, London (1969)
  • Curwen Gallery, London
  • Redmark Gallery, London
  • Annual Summer Exhibition, Ben Uri Gallery (1964)