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Gustav Rehberger papers, 1924-2004

Gustav Rehberger papers, 1924-2004

Rehberger, Gustav, 1910-1995

Painter, Educator, Draftsmen (artists)

Collection Information

Size: 5.7 linear feet

Summary: The Gustav Rehberger papers measure 5.7 linear feet and date from 1924 to 2004. His career as an illustrator, painter, educator, and performance artist is documented by correspondence, scrapbooks, printed material, photographs, and sound and video recordings.

An addition of 1.7 linear feet donated 2016 includes photographs and transparencies of drawings by Rehberger; artwork including paintings, drawings, sketches, studies for magazine illustrations, movie posters, book covers, and other commercial uses; and printed material consisting of tearsheets, posters, book covers, and movie promotional material.

Biographical/Historical Note

Gustav Rehberger (1910-1995) was an illustrator, designer, painter, educator, and performance artist in New York, New York.


The Gustav Rehberger papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2004 and 2016 by his widow, Pamela Demme.

A Finding Aid to the Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Gustav Rehberger (1910-1995) was an illustrator, designer, painter, educator, and performance artist in New York City.
The Rehberger family emigrated from Austria to Chicago in 1923. At age 14, Rehberger began studying at the Art Institute of Chicago on a scholarship that continued for three years. While still a teenager, he also was enrolled in The Art Instruction Schools, Minneapolis. After declining two college scholarships, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator to help support his family during the Depression. Fom 1929-1942, he was Art Director at Reuben H. Donnelly Corporation in Chicago, publishers of telephone directories.
During World War II, the Wartime Committee of the Society of Typographic Artists commissioned Rehberger to paint two murals for the interior of Chicago's Union Station (1942). He moved to New York City in 1943 and soon enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. While in the service, Rehberger was assigned to the Illustrations and Format Branch where he created visual training aids.
After the war, Rehberger's illustrations appeared in the national advertising campaigns of Celanese Chemicals, Philip Morris and Sheraton Hotels; were featured in major newspaper and magazines such as Chicago Daily Tribune, The New York Times, and Esquire; and in various Christian publications.
In order to focus on painting, in 1969 Rehberger ceased commercial work. From 1972-1993 he taught drawing, anatomy, and composition at the Art Students League of New York. He also became interested in performance art. Evolving out of his classroom drawing demonstrations, Rehberger's performances - the act of painting and drawing before a live audience - soon moved to formal performance spaces and often were accompanied by recorded music.
Throughout his career, Rehberger participated in numerous group shows and was the recipient of many awards and prizes. He also had a number of solo exhibitions, among them shows at the Society of Illustrators in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and National Gallery of Art in London.
Gustav Rehberger died in New York City on July 22, 1995.
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 2003 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1938-2003 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1924-2004; Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1937-1972; Boxes 2, 6; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Artwork, 1927-1942 (Boxes 2, 6; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1927-1995 (Boxes 2-3, 6; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Sound and Video Recordings, 1972-1995 (Boxes 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)
The Gustav Rehberger papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2004 and 2016 by his widow, Pamela Demme.
Processing Information
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Justin Brancato in 2007. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C.

How to Cite This Collection

Gustav Rehberger papers, 1924-2004. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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