About Mort Künstler
He's renowned as “the premier historical artist in America.” When Mort Künstler began his emphasis on Civil War art in the late 1980s, he had already accomplished more than a half-dozen artists could hope to accomplish in a collective lifetime. From portraits of prehistoric American life to the odyssey of the space shuttle, Mort Künstler had painted America's story.
When he placed his focus on Civil War art, Mr. Künstler quickly established himself as the country's most-collected Civil War artist, and earned unprecedented acclaim within the genre of Civil War art. "Mort Künstler is the foremost Civil War artist of our time -- if not of all time," says Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., the dean of Civil War historians and the author of the celebrated biography, Stonewall Jackson. "To study his paintings," says Robertson, "is to simply see history alive." Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson concurs. "Of all the artists working in the Civil War field," he observes, "none captures the human element, the aura of leadership, the sense of being there and sharing in the drama, quite like Mort Künstler. He has that enviable talent of being able to re-create history on canvas and to translate events into art."
Harold Holzer, Vice-President of Communications and leading authority on Civil War art with New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, believes the popular enthusiasm for Mr. Künstler's work is due to his artistic talent as much as to the authenticity of his art. "He deserves double credit" says Holzer, "His art is terrific and he's attracted thousands of people to Civil War art."
“Mort Künstler is second to none in his portrayal of battle, whether it is the carnage at Antietam’s bloody Lane or history’s first clash of ironclad warships. And he is unequaled in pictorial descriptions of the marching, the waiting, the maneuvering. Künstler is also unsurpassed in his portrayal of winter scenes, with the shimmering blue-white of snow at dusk casting a half light of eerie beauty.”
- Prof. James M. McPherson Author, Battle Cry of Freedom
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Mr. Künstler's talent and training were nurtured from an early age. After studying art at Brooklyn College, U.C.L.A. and Pratt Institute, he became a successful illustrator in New York where he received assignments from book and magazine publishers. An important part of his training resulted from his affiliation with National Geographic Magazine. It was through their assignments of historical subject matter that he learned the value of working with historians so that accuracy was firmly imbued into his concept.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Künstler's paintings began attracting the attention of serious art collectors. At first the interest was mainly in his Western subject matter, but after a major museum retrospective exhibition and a one-man show at the prestigious Hammer Galleries in New York City, he became known as an important painter of historic subjects. Since his first show in 1977, Mr. Künstler has had thirteen more highly successful one-man shows at Hammer Galleries, his most recent in December 2006.
In 1982, a commission from CBS-TV to do a painting for the mini-series, The Blue and the Gray directed Mr. Künstler's interest towards the Civil War. Although the research was painstaking, he devoted much time to making sure that his painting The High Water Mark was meticulously correct. The painting was unveiled at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum on July 2, 1988 in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the battle. Since then, Mr. Künstler has been concentrating on Civil War subject matter.
In 1986, more than two hundred Künstler artworks were published in the book, The American Spirit - The Paintings of Mort Künstler, with text by famed historian Henry Steele Commager. An updated edition of The American Spirit was published in 1994 by Rutledge Hill Press. Images of the Civil War - The Paintings of Mort Künstler, with text by Pulitzer Prize winning author James McPherson, was published in 1992. Gettysburg - The Paintings of Mort Künstler, also with text by James McPherson was published by Turner Publishing as a companion piece to the epic feature film and mini-series Gettysburg. In 1993, a one-hour television special, entitled Images of the Civil War - The Paintings of Mort Künstler, was shown on the A&E network.
His reputation for both accuracy and artistic mastery earned Mr. Künstler a commission from the U.S. Postal Service in 1992 to do a painting of the Buffalo Soldiers. The stamp was issued in April of 1994. Other books featuring his art include Jackson and Lee: Legends in Gray, with text by James I. Robertson, Jr., Images of the Old West: The Paintings of Mort Künstler with Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Mort Künstler's Civil War: The North and Mort Künstler's Civil War: The South, Mort Künstler's Old West: Cowboys, and Mort Künstler's Old West: Indians - which were all published by Rutledge Hill Press.
In 1998, the Nassau County Museum of Art in New York sponsored a one-man exhibition entitled The Civil War - The Paintings of Mort Künstler. More than 130 paintings, drawings, and sculptures were gathered together from around the nation. The seven-week exhibition attracted more than 30,000 visitors, surpassing the previous attendance record set by a Picasso exhibit. Due to the success of this exhibit, the Nassau County Museum of Art held a second one-man exhibit of Mr. Künstler’s work in 2006 entitled The American Spirit – The Paintings of Mort Künstler.
Gov. Gilmore & Künstler
In Virginia, Governor James Gilmore officially declared a "Mort Künstler Day" in 1999, and in 2000, Governor Gilmore officially opened an exhibition at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond called The Confederate Spirit: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, which was the first one-man exhibition of a contemporary artist ever held at the museum. Later that year, a book by the same name was published by Rutledge Hill Press with a narrative by James I. Robertson, Jr. In a similar ceremony north of the Mason-Dixon line in Ohio, Mr. Künstler was selected as the Official Artist of the Ohio State Bicentennial, and his painting of General John Hunt Morgan's raid through Ohio was featured in a long-term exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Robertson & Künstler
Mr. Künstler continues to participate in a variety of charitable causes that are close to his heart. In 2001, following America's 9-11 tragedy, he contributed one of his most popular limited edition prints - "Old Glory" - for a fund-raiser by the American Red Cross. The non-profit program raised more than $150,000 for the Red Cross to use on behalf of the victims of the 9-11 attack. Since 1998, Mr. Künstler has been a supporter of Timber Ridge School - a residential institution serving emotionally disturbed adolescent boys in Winchester, Virginia. Sales of ornaments featuring his art have raised over $700,000 for the school. In 2003, a new residence hall at the school was named Mort Künstler Hall in his honor.
In 2001, Mr. Künstler was named the official artist for the motion picture Gods and Generals, and in 2002 Greenwich Workshop Press published his newest book: Gods and Generals: The Paintings of Mort Künstler. He also served as a consultant for the heralded Ron Maxwell motion picture, Gods and Generals, and his art publisher, American Spirit Publishing, released a series of historical Civil War limited edition prints of key historical events on which the motion picture was based. In 2002, Mr. Künstler became the first artist to be honored by a 6- month one-man exhibition at the new National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 2003, he received the Jefferson Davis Southern Heritage Award from the Military Order of the Stars and Bars - composed of descendants of the Southern officer corps - which followed his 2001 receipt of the Henry Timrod Southern Culture Award by the M.O.S.B.
Mr. Künstler has also been named as an Official Artist for the H.L. Hunley, and unveiled a new painting of the H.L. Hunley during ceremonies in Charleston, South Carolina on April 17-18, 2004. He has also been commissioned to design and furnish all the artwork for the Middletown, Ohio Veterans Memorial, which was unveiled on July 4, 2004.
In 2010 the Nassau County Museum of Art held their third exhibit of Künstler’s Civil War paintings in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. For Us the Living - The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Künstler consisted of approximately 50 paintings accompanied by a selection of documentary objects. For the first time, visitors to a Künstler exhibition gained an inside look into the artist’s creative process through a display of his sketches, drawings, and preliminary studies.
Mr. Künstler was commissioned to paint an accurate depiction of Washington crossing the Delaware. Washington's Crossing was unveiled at the New-York Historical Society on December 26, 2011 - the 235th anniversary of the actual event - and received great critical acclaim.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a collection of over thirty original Civil War paintings by Künstler have been on exhibit at various museums. This traveling exhibit started in February 2012 at the VMI Museum in Lexington, Virginia and continued on to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historic Park and the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, South Carolina. During 2013 the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania will host the exhibit, followed by the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. The traveling exhibit will conclude at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland in 2014.
On September 13, 2012, the U. S. National Archives in Washington, DC hosted “An Evening with Mort Künstler.” Mr. Künstler discussed pivotal moments in his career with Laurie Norton Moffat, Executive Director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, accompanied by a slide show of his works.
Mr. Künstler was the sixth artist honored by the Booth Western Art Museum of Cartersville, Georgia with their Lifetime Achievement Award on February 15, 2014. He will join Howard Terpning, G. Harvey, Ken Riley, Fred Fellow, and Glenna Goodacre as the only honorees in the history of the award.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a collection of over thirty original Civil War paintings by Künstler have been on exhibit at various museums. This traveling exhibit started in February 2012 at the VMI Museum in Lexington, Virginia and continued on to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historic Park, the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, followed by the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, concluding at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland in 2014.
In 2013, Künstler began a major body of work on the American Revolution. These new works were featured in the book The New Nation: The Creation of the United States in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts – The Art of Mort Künstler published by Sterling Publishing in October 2014. The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY, curated and hosted an exhibit of these new paintings in Mort Künstler: The New Nation, December 10, 2016 through April 2, 2017. The exhibit featured 34 works in all, including Künstler's classics, Washington's Crossing and Reading the Declaration of Independence to the Troops.
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts held a major retrospective exhibit of Mr. Künstler's paintings from November 2014 to March 2015. The exhibit titled Mort Künstler: The Art of Adventure included over 80 pieces from early childhood work through his most recent works. The exhibit travelled through May 2016, being on view at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA, The Citadelle Art Foundation in Canadian, TX, and The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook, NY.
Probably no other artist in our nation's history has recorded so many events in American history and certainly no one has painted them with the extraordinary authenticity and drama as Mort Künstler.
Mort Künstler is America's artist.
As an expert in the field of historical art, I am well-versed in the work of Mort Künstler, renowned as "the premier historical artist in America." With a career spanning several decades, Künstler has achieved more than most artists could hope to accomplish in a collective lifetime.
Künstler's journey into the realm of Civil War art began in the late 1980s, where he quickly established himself as the country's most-collected Civil War artist. His talent and expertise in capturing the essence of the era earned him unprecedented acclaim within the genre. Notable figures in the field, such as Dr. James I. Robertson Jr. and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson, have lauded Künstler as the foremost Civil War artist of our time.
What sets Künstler apart is his ability to breathe life into history through his paintings. His artwork captures the human element, the aura of leadership, and the sense of being present in the midst of the drama. Künstler's talent lies not only in his artistic skill but also in his dedication to historical accuracy. Through collaborations with historians and meticulous research, he ensures that his paintings are imbued with authenticity.
Künstler's artistic journey began with his formal training at Brooklyn College, U.C.L.A., and Pratt Institute. He then embarked on a successful career as an illustrator in New York, receiving assignments from prestigious book and magazine publishers. His affiliation with National Geographic Magazine further honed his skills, teaching him the importance of working closely with historians to maintain accuracy in his concepts.
In the early 1970s, Künstler's paintings caught the attention of serious art collectors, particularly in his Western subject matter. However, his reputation as an important painter of historic subjects solidified after a major museum retrospective exhibition and a one-man show at the prestigious Hammer Galleries in New York City. Since then, he has had numerous highly successful one-man shows at Hammer Galleries, showcasing his diverse range of artwork.
Künstler's dedication to the Civil War subject matter intensified in 1982 when he received a commission from CBS-TV to paint for the mini-series, The Blue and the Gray. The painstaking research and attention to detail he poured into his painting, "The High Water Mark," unveiled at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum, marked a pivotal moment in his career. Since then, Künstler has focused primarily on Civil War art.
Throughout his career, Künstler's artwork has been featured in numerous books, including The American Spirit, Images of the Civil War, Gettysburg, Jackson and Lee: Legends in Gray, and more. His reputation for accuracy and artistic mastery even earned him a commission from the U.S. Postal Service to paint the Buffalo Soldiers for a stamp issued in 1994.
Künstler's work has been widely exhibited, attracting thousands of visitors and breaking attendance records. Notably, the Nassau County Museum of Art held two highly successful one-man exhibitions of his work in 1998 and 2006.
Beyond his artistic endeavors, Künstler is also actively involved in charitable causes. He has contributed his artwork to fundraisers for the American Red Cross and supported Timber Ridge School, a residential institution serving emotionally disturbed adolescent boys in Winchester, Virginia.
In recent years, Künstler's talent has extended beyond the Civil War era. In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, he embarked on a collection of over thirty original Civil War paintings that have been exhibited at various museums across the country. He has also delved into the American Revolution, with a collection of paintings featured in the book The New Nation: The Creation of the United States in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts.
With his extraordinary authenticity and mastery, Mort Künstler has left an indelible mark on American history. His paintings not only capture pivotal moments but also transport viewers back in time to experience the rich tapestry of our nation's past.