Gustav Frederick Goetsch was born on a farm near Gaylord, Minnesota on 15 March, 1877. He was one of nine children of Ida Ardnt Goetsch and Heinrich Goetsch. By his mid- teens, his interest in art was firmly established.
When only 19 year old, after graduating from high school, he left the farm to study art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He earned his own way through school and in 1901 won a scholarship to the New York School of Fine Arts, where he studied under William Merritt Chase. He then returned to Minneapolis to teach at the Minneapolis Institute of Art while acquiring funds for further study. In 1904 he began studies in Europe, primarily in Paris at the Academie Julian, with Blanch and Julian, from 1904 through 1907
Upon his return to the United States, he resumed teaching at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, working with Robert Koehler, the Director. After two years, in 1909 he accepted a teaching offer by Edmund Wuerpel, Director of the Washington University School of Fine Arts, St. Louis, MO. After 5 years there, he returned once again to the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts under the urging of Director Robert Koehler and became the Principal of the Fine Arts Department. While there he met Hazel Elizabeth Weedell who became his wife in 1918. In 1917 he returned to the Washington University School of Fine arts where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1951 at the age of 74.
After retirement he remained active and enjoyed some of his most rewarding and productive years. In 1952 he received a special Alumnae award for his teaching years. He was still very active and produced many award winning paintings in the late 1960’s.. He had a very successful one-man show in progress at the time of his death on 4 April, 1969 at the age of 92
Throughout his life he was a prolific painter and etcher, producing thousands of works. He worked with oils, pastels, watercolors, pencil and ink drawings, etchings, linoleum cuts, and other media. His subjects were portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes interior scenes and still lifes. His paintings of his studio interior are particularly treasured. He made many paintings and etchings in New England near Rockport and Gloucester Mass, in Missouri, in Montana and California where his daughter lived. His style was classical with some impressionist influence, with an occasional experimentation in the abstract. He produced many paintings by commission for Washington University and other institutions as well as private patrons.
He exhibited in Minneapolis, New York, Paris and St Louis where he lived as well as many other locations throughout the country. Over the years he consistently won many top prizes and awards of all types. His works are known to be in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum, Minneapolis Art Museum, Wooster Art Museum, Chicago Art Museum, Washington University, University of Missouri, Washington University Medical School, Washington University Dental School, Masonic Temple in Washington DC, Concordia Seminary in St Louis, the Missouri Historical Society, Gustavus Adolphus College, Springfield, MO Art Museum, the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and many private collections.
His organization memberships included the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, the Art Alliance of St. Louis, the Art Students League of New York, The American Society of Art-Paris, the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Faculty Club of Washington University, the Two by Four Society, the Professional Art Academy and many others.
He was a man of great integrity and inner strength who was dearly loved by his students, fellow faculty members and patrons. Throughout his life he placed his own artistic values over the fad of the moment and continually worked for refinement of artistic expression.
His son is now writing a book of his life and art.
Information courtesy of Gustav F. Goetsch, Jr., the artist's son.