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The Art of Mort Künstler

Published: December 19, 2016

Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Mort Künstler’s artistic talent was recognized at an early age. After graduating from the Pratt Institute in 1950, he got his start professionally by illustrating men’s adventure magazines and pulp fiction covers. Those paintings — sometimes lurid, sometimes exciting, sometimes shocking — showed a knack for engaging the viewer with a visual story. That storytelling ability and his skill with a brush soon landed him more ambitious projects.

Today, Künstler is recognized as one of America’s greatest historical artists. His devotion to research and historical accuracy, especially in his well-known Civil War paintings, has set his work apart. Many of Künstler’s paintings that were, like Norman Rockwell’s, once considered “just illustrations” are now finding homes in fine art museums around the country.

The images below show just some of the genres of illustration in which Mort Künstler has left his mark. You can find out more about Künstler—and see more of his work—in the January/February 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

American History

Lafayette with Washington at Morristown

Lafayette and Washington at Morristown

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, Lafayette with Washington at Morristown ©1981 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Suffragettes

Women sufferagettes marching

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, Suffragettes ©1987 Mort Künstler, Inc.

The Civil War

The Bloody Angle

Civil War battle scene

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Bloody Angle ©1991 Mort Künstler, Inc.

“Angel of Marye’s Heights”

Battlefield medic attending to a fallen Union soldier

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Bloody Angle ©1991 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Movie Posters

The Poseidon Adventure

Poseidon Adventure poster

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Poseidon Adventure ©1972 Mort Künstler, Inc.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Poster for the film "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three"

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ©1974 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Poster for the film "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three"

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ©1974 Mort Künstler, Inc.

 

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Solarcaine

Ad for Solarcaine

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, Solarcaine ©1975 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Old Crow

Ad for Old Crow wiskey

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, Old Crow ©1980 Mort Künstler, Inc.

 

Men’s Adventure Stories

“Kill 3, on Elephants”

Illustration featjuring elephants running in a field

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, “Kill 3, on Elephants” ©1972 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Trapped by Santo Domingo’s Kill-and-Loot Rebels

Man shooting people in an office

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, Trapped by Santo Domingo’s Kill-and-Loot Rebels ©1965 Mort Künstler, Inc.

 

Political Figures

The Great White Fleet Sails

Teddy Roosevelt in front of a giant boat

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, The Great White Fleet Sails ©1977 Mort Künstler, Inc.

President John F. Kennedy

Portrait of John F. Kennedy in profile

From the Original Painting by Mort Künstler, President John F. Kennedy ©1986 Mort Künstler, Inc.

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