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 Rudolph Weisenborn  (1881 - 1974)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Colorado      Known for: cubist figure-views, portrait, teaching

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Rudolph Weisenborn
from Auction House Records.
Geometric Abstraction
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Rudolph Weisenborn, painter, designer, illustrator and teacher, was born in Strassburg, Germany in 1881.  He lived in various Midwestern locations before he began school at the University of North Dakota in 1898.  Weisenborn then attended the Students School of Art in Denver, under Henry Reed and Jean Mannheim, for five years until 1910. 

After settling in Chicago in 1912 he worked at the Marshall Field & Co. as a window designer before he worked under the Federal Arts Project in the Easel Division.  The diverse artist not only became a central figure in a movement that resulted in the organization of a series of modern artists groups in Chicago, but also taught at several schools.  He taught at the Hull House (1920), the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1922-34), privately after opening the Weisenborn Art School (1934-64), and again for the Austin, Oak Park, River Forest Art League in Oak Park (1941). 

Weisenborn helped to start the Chicago No-Jury International Exhibition – exhibitors from all over the world sent work to Chicago during the 1920s, making the No-Jury Show a major cultural event in the Midwest.   He was said to have “harbored feelings of disdain for any jury, he was often invited to serve on juries of selection at the Art Institute of Chicago and elsewhere, but how own paintings were not infrequently rejected by conservative jurors serving the same institutions.”  -Yochim, pg. 82

Studied:
University of North Dakota; Students School of Art, Denver, under Henry Reed and Jean Mannheim

Exhibited:
Marshall Field Galleries, 1915, 1923 (both solo)
Randolph Theatre, Chicago, 1924 (solo)
Playhouse Theatre, Chicago, 1927 (solo)
Chicago Womans Aid Club, 1930 (solo)
Chicago Galleries Association, 1930 (solo)
Quest Galleries, Chicago, 1931-36 (solo)
Chester Johnson Galleries, Chicago (solo)
Molton & Ricketts Gallery, Chicago, 1913
Palette & Chisel Club, Chicago, 1917
Salon de Refuses, 1919
No-Jury Society, 1922
Art Institute of Chicago, 1918-1949, Honorable Mention 1928,
Federal Arts Project 1938, “Half a Century of American Painting” Exhibit 1939
Society of Independent Artists, 1924, 1926, 1934

Work:
Curtain for Opera House, Telluride, Colorado, 1912
Century of Progress Mural, General Exhibits Building, World’s Fair
Chicago Neo-Arlimusc Society, 1924-30
Lane Technical High School, Chicago, mural 1937
Great Northern Theatre, Chicago, mural 1937
Nettlehorst School, Chicago, mural 1939
Diorama for Tennessee Valley Authority,
San Francisco, California, Mural 1939
Goodman Theatre, Chicago, stage sets
Art Institute of Chicago

Member:
Chicago No-Jury International Exhibition (founder and first President)
American Abstract Artists, 1937 (charter member)
Cor Ardens
Society of Independent Artists
W P A, Federal Arts Project
Neo-Arlimusc Society (founder, 1928)
Chicago Society of Artists 

Sources:
Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975
Mallett, Mallett’s Index of American Artists: International - Biographical
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
Kennedy (ed.), Chicago Modern 1893-1945: Pursuit of the New
Falk (ed.), The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago 1888-1950
Prince, The Old Guard and the Avant-Garde Modernism in Chicago 1910-1940
Marlor, The Society of Independent Artists Exhibition Record 1917-1944
Barter and Springer, Currents of Expansion Painting in the Midwest 1820-1940
Smithsonian (ed.), Smithsonian Archives of American Art: Checklist of the Collection
Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Collection
Art Institute of Chicago, Half a Century of American Art: The Art Institute of Chicago
Sparks, A Biographical Dictionary of Painters and Sculptors in Illinois 1808-1945
Greenhouse, “Chicago Modern, 1893-1943, Pursuit of the New,” American Art Review, August 2004
Illinois State Museum, Chicago Painting 1895-1945, The Bridges Collection
Yochim, Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists

 Information courtesy of Jim Williams


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Orphaned at age nine, Rudolph Weisenborn lived in Colorado and attended the Students' School of Art. In 1913, he settled in Chicago and became a central figure in "radical" artists' groups that rebelled against traditional art education. He and his associates asserted that changes in art expression should rival other dramatic changes in this country. His work had a dynamism that conveys tense, dynamic, unyielding vigor resonating with modern city life. A 1922 studio fire destroyed much of his earlier work. He did many large-scale, boldly asymetric works including portrait heads. Clarence Darrow was one of his subjects.

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