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The artworks by Stefan Knapp (1921-96) are on offer in the CA Global Partners (CAGP) auction to be held in the Aviation Suite overlooking the Heathrow Runway at the Thistle London Heathrow Terminal 5 Hotel, Bath Road, London, on April 21.

Among the major projects Knapp undertook was the creation of this series of enamel panels for Terminal One, a commission dating to 1958 that was fully realised when the terminal opened 10 years later.

Ten of 17 originally on show are on sale, offered without estimates. The ones featured in the pictures above measure 9ft 10in square (3m square).

The auction results from the closure of Terminal One on June 29, 2015 as part of Heathrow’s upgrade.

From Soviet labour camp to RAF

After imprisonment in the labour camp in 1939, aged 18, Knapp then joined the Polish ‘Anders’ army based in the Soviet Union on his release in 1942, later transferring to Britain, where he trained as a Spitfire pilot in the RAF and worked in reconnaissance.

After the war he studied at the Royal Academy and the Slade School of Fine Art before embarking on an artistic career that specialised in murals, often of unprecedented size. This culminated in a highly acclaimed 1954 exhibition in London where he demonstrated a new technique he had developed of melting glass into piece of light steel using specially constructed furnaces.

Knapp’s pioneering work using this method led to him patenting a technique of painting with enamel paint on steel, thereby allowing him to create large murals for public buildings that could last for centuries if needs be.

Knapp cutout.jpg

One of the 9ft 10in (3m) square Stefan Knapp murals originally on display in Heathrow but now up at auction after Terminal One was revamped.

In the 1950s the architect Denys Lasdun commissioned Knapp to create a mural for the foyer of Hallfield Primary School in Westminster. Further commissions involved a large mural for the Warsaw Metro, titled The Battle of Britain, and a huge mural for the New Jersey department store Alexander’s in 1961.

The latter, installed in 1963, was so large – it comprised 280 panels and weighed 250 tons – that it became a landmark for planes coming into land at JFK airport, was reputedly the largest public mural in the world and featured on the cover of Time magazine. According to Glass on Metal magazine, having assembled it in his studio, Knapp was photographed using skis to cross it while he applied the enamel and paint.

George Farkas, the owner of Alexander’s and a notable art patron, had seen Knapp’s murals at Heathrow.

Knapp went one better in 1967 when he completed the longest mural in the world for Alexander’s White Plains store. With 450 panels, it ran to 1500m and could only be photographed in its entirety at a distance from a helicopter.

As Knapp’s reputation grew, so did the commissions. He worked on projects such as the Shell and Seagram buildings with other leading artists of the day, such as Mark Rothko, Salvador Dalí and Jackson Pollock.