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Gustav Rehberger papers, 1924-2004

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. From 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.