Considered one of greatest historical artists in the United States, Mort Künstler has become well known for the extraordinary veracity of his work. In the 1980s, he quickly established himself as the foremost Civil War artist of our time and continued to bring other events in American history to life with unprecedented authority through his meticulously rendered and researched paintings.
Künstler and the Nassau County Museum of Art also have a long history together. In 1998, the museum presented the artist’s major solo exhibition entitled The Civil War – The Paintings of Mort Künstler followed by The American Spirit – The Paintings of Mort Künstler in 2006. Then again, in 2010, the museum held a third Künstler exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators has been shown at the Heckscher Museum in 2019 (through November 17th); and Mort Künstler: The Art of Adventure was shown recently at the Long Island Museum, organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which did a major retrospective of the artist in 2014.
In the early 1970’s, Mort Künstler received a commission from the Frame House Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky, to paint a series of classic automobiles. He began prowling antique car shows for his research, and met the owner of the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost depicted in this painting. For Silver Ghost, Autumn Leaves, Künstler hatched the idea for a Gatsby-inspired painting to feature his new friend’s car set in front an estate on Long Island’s North Shore. Künstler and his wife Deborah were the models for the main figures in the painting.
Did you know…Born in Brooklyn to parents with Polish and Austrian Jewish roots, his last name was derived from the German word “künstler,” which means “artist.” The artist’s great-grandfather was given the name by the Tsar of Russia as thanks for creating a carving of him when this emperor ruled the family’s home region.