Thursday, July 11, 2019

New Exhibit at The Heckscher Museum of Art: August 24 - November 17, 2019

The Don, by Mort Künstler
1969, mixed media
©Mort Künstler, Inc.

Exhibit: Mort Künstler: "The Godfather" of Pulp Fiction Illustrators
Address: The Heckscher Museum of Art2 Prime Avenue, Huntington, NY 11743
Telephone: 631-351-3250

July 2019

The Heckscher Museum of Art Presents: 

Mort Künstler: "The Godfather" of Pulp Fiction Illustrators

on view August 24 to November 17, 2019 

Huntington, NY — Long before blockbuster superhero movies, those looking for an adrenaline rush turned to adventure magazines featuring exciting stories and thrilling illustrations. As the go-to artist and illustrator, Mort Künstler's work graced hundreds of magazine covers, stories, and books, firmly establishing his prominence in the pulp fiction genre. For the first time, more than 80 of these remarkable original artworks – many of them never exhibited before – are shown together in The Heckscher Museum of Art's exhibition Mort Künstler: "The Godfather" of Pulp Fiction Illustrators. 

To see and hear more about the exhibition in Mort Künstler's own words, click here for the YouTube video preview

Originally featured in magazines such as Stag, Male, and For Men Only in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, the illustrations brought to life headlines that screamed adventure. The images of men in combat, women in distress, and nature threatening man immediately caught the reader's attention. "You try to pick a moment that will entice the reader and catch their attention and make them want to read the whole text," explains Künstler. "The whole goal is to make them stop and go, 'what's going on here?'"

Jet-Sled Raid on Russia's Ice Cap Pleasure Stockade, by Mort Künstler
1967, gouache
 ©Mort Künstler, Inc. 

Künstler was so good, that there were instances when his carefully detailed illustrations actually inspired a story, rather than the other way around. During his long career, Künstler illustrated stories for many authors, including Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, who wrote in the same magazines under the pen name Mario Cleri. Künstler illustrated Puzo's The Godfather long before the movie franchise. His vision comes amazingly close to how the characters eventually appeared in the movies. These paintings will be on exhibit in Mort Künstler: "The Godfather" of Pulp Fiction Illustrators

The Heckscher Museum is producing a catalogue to accompany Mort Künstler: "The Godfather" of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, and publication of a companion book on Mort's men's adventure art will be released during the exhibit. A traveling exhibition is being organized as well. Artist appearances and signings to be announced.

For more information, visit the The Heckscher Museum of Art website or Contact Us:  Kunstler Enterprises, Ltd., 800-850-1776,,

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From Simple Sketch to Masterpiece

The Making of a Masterpiece: The Creation Process
by Jane Künstler

Many people ask my father, Mort Künstler, “How do you create your paintings?” “Where do you get your ideas?” “How do you start a painting?” “How long does it take?”

Since I grew up with him working at home, and I have worked with him for nearly thirty years, I am pretty familiar with his process.

Mort reads a lot of history books to get ideas for a painting. He likes to portray a situation which is, in essence, a snapshot in time that could never have been photographed.  Mort thinks about what would be most interesting to the viewer – it could be an important moment, or an insignificant one.

This example of Mort's painting, Rush to the Summit, shows his process. It depicts Union Gen. Joshua Chamberlain ordering the 20th Maine, at the Battle of Gettysburg, to advance to the summit of Little Round Top. This action led to a significant victory, though they were extremely outnumbered by Confederate soldiers. 

Mort starts with a very simple and rough sketch: 

A final sketch is completed. Using the same method used by the masters,  Mort adds gridlines to help him transfer the composition onto his canvas: 

Mort then draws up the 20” x 38” canvas and begins to paint: 

After about eight weeks of painting, the painting is finished:
Rush to the Summit, by Mort Künstler ©2009 Mort Künstler, Inc.
Buy this Print

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mort Künstler's Men's Adventure Art Featured in Sporting Classics Magazine

Recently Sporting Classics magazine featured a story on Mort and his art - especially his illustrations of Man vs. Animal subjects, painted during the 1950s, 60s and 70s for men's adventure magazines. Take a peek at this interesting article written by journalist Todd Wilkinson in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Sporting Classics magazine, courtesy of

Sporting Classics, Jan/Feb 2019, "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams", by Todd Wilkinson, p. 60-68.  Courtesy

"I Was Captured by a Baboon Army" by Mort Künstler © 1959 Mort Künstler, Inc.

Sporting Classics, Jan/Feb 2019, "Beyond Our Wildest Dreams", by Todd Wilkinson, p. 60-68.  Courtesy

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering 9/11

Old Glory by Mort Künstler © 1986 Mort Künstler, Inc.


I will never forget my disbelief and shock when the planes hit the Twin Towers seventeen years ago. Like so many other people, we wanted to help in some way.  Of course, we donated money to the American Red Cross for the victims, but it just didn’t seem like enough.

Not long before this tragedy, my art publisher had made prints of my painting Old Glory as a promotion.  There were about eight hundred remaining.  After 9/11, I decided to hand-sign the prints, and give them to people in exchange for a $25.00 donation to the American Red Cross.

I arranged for print signings at the Oyster Bay and Rockville Centre, New York Post Offices. The outpouring of concern and sympathy was universal when I met people at these events. For me it was an act of doing something and being a part of an effort to overcome the suffering America was experiencing.  We gave away all of the prints in a short period of time, and a second printing of another six thousand was done. After an article was written about the prints in Newsday and information appeared on our website, we started receiving checks for the Red Cross in the mail – a lot of them! Our network of dealers across the country were accepting donations to the Red Cross for these prints as well. Donations came in from around the world.

Every morning before going to work, I would sign hundreds of prints. My family and studio assistant packed and mailed them.  A neighbor volunteered to pack prints for hours. Within weeks we were able to donate $200,000 for this good cause.

                                                             — Mort Künstler

All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Knstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.