The Civil War Art of Mort Künstler
April 26 - July 28, 2013
Opening Reception — Friday, April 26, 2013 – 5:30-7:30 p.m. — Meet Mort Künstler!
Wine and Light Hors d'ouevres — Meet the artist and book signing with lecture from 6-7 p.m.
Price: $20 for Members/$30 for Non-Members
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address (which is being observed in 2013), the Reading Public Museum will exhibit nearly 30 paintings, etchings and sketches by renowned historical artist Mort Künstler.
He's the premier historical artist in America - and now he focuses mainly on the American Civil War. When Mort Künstler began his current emphasis on Civil War art in the early 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 - and was already renowned as "the premier historical artist in America." 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts will be having a major retrospective exhibit of Mr. Künstler's paintings from November 2014 to March 2015.
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 will be 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.
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.
Image (top): Mort Künstler,Pickett's Charge: Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, oil on canvas, ©2012 Mort Künstler, Inc.