Friday, July 31, 2009

Mort Künstler by M. Stephen Doherty - 3

The earliest evidence of Künstler’s interest in art is recalled
by his sister, Rhoda Gayle, who remembers her two-and-ahalf-
year-old brother copying on a blackboard the drawings
she brought home from kindergarten. That practice continued
until Mort entered PS 2I5 elementary school in Brooklyn.
Künstler’s mother, Rebecca, who was a schoolteacher,
taught him to read before he ever stepped into a classroom.
By the time he entered kindergarten he was ahead of most
children his age, so he was skipped into the first grade. “I
became something of a troublemaker,” remembers Künstler.
“I already knew what the other kids were being taught, so my
mind would wander to other things. To keep me occupied,
the teacher gave me some art supplies. By the time I reached
second grade, I was painting pictures better than anyone in
the school, including the sixth graders.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mort Künstler by M. Stephen Doherty - Part 2

Mort’s father, Tom, a man with strong interests in sports,
politics, and art, had ideas about his son’s future even before
Mort was born. He referred to his future offspring as an
“experiment” and speculated that he could “create” a certain
type of personality by molding and influencing his child from
the moment of birth. He was determined to make his son into
both artist and athlete, an unusual combination even today.
Whether it was nature or nurture, Tom’s dreams for his son
came true.
Tom Künstler gave his son art supplies and drawing lessons
before he even started school. “My father was an amateur artist
and a very clever man,” Mort recalls. “He had a beautiful
way of guiding me rather than forcing me to like the things
he wanted me to appreciate. He would set up still lifes and say
to me, ‘Put down what you see,’ and I would draw everything
in front of me.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mort Künstler by M. Stephen Doherty - Part 1

Mort Künstler is crouched in the middle of the floor of his
spacious library with his knees bent, both arms outstretched
as if clutching a pair of reins. His back is perfectly straight as
he yanks those imaginary leather straps. “As soon as I felt the
horse slipping off the trail into the deep snow, I got ready to
jump off in case she should fall on me. Sure enough,” Künstler
continues, as he rises from his crouched stance, “the horse
fell, but fought her way back onto her feet and pulled herself
back onto the trail. I stayed with her all the way and didn’t
bail out.” The person listening to this animated description is
not quite sure how it answers his question about the artist’s
working procedures, but at this point the question no longer
seems important.
“I figured, with all the deep snow along the trail, there wasn’t
much chance of her crushing me anyway,” Künstler goes on to
say. “We continued up the mountain until we reached a flat
spot. The guide jumped off his horse and ran over to ask me if
I was okay. He said he was amazed that I was able to stay with
the horse and didn’t panic. That evening, around the campfire,
he kept repeating how he couldn’t believe that an artist
from New York could handle himself so well on a horse. I told
him that if he knew how thoroughly I researched the subject
matter for my paintings he would understand how I had come
to know so much about horses.”
The story of Künstler’s trip over the Big Horn mountains
demonstrates just how far he will go to gather accurate information
for his paintings. It also shows the kind of enthusiasm
he has for his work. That penchant for accuracy is one of the
qualities that has attracted museums, corporations, and art
collectors to his paintings.
Künstler is in the enviable position of being successful and
well respected as both an illustrator and an exhibiting fine artist.
He is well known by publishers of books and magazines,
by art directors of advertising agencies, by all those who avail
themselves of the talents of illustrators. His art has appeared
on the covers of Newsweek and Sports Afield, in promotions
for various motion pictures, and in countless advertisements
and magazines. And since 1977, when his paintings were
first shown in major gallery and museum exhibitions, he has
received recognition as a fine artist.
To understand how Künstler achieved this enviable status,
one needs to trace the artist’s development from his earliest
experiences to his latest paintings, paying particular attention
to those who inspired and assisted in that development.
In so doing, one will gain an even greater appreciation for
Künstler’s extraordinary talent.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Making of a Masterpiece - The Final Painting

General Joshua L. Chamberlain returned to the slope of Little Round Top in 1913 – 50 years after the Battle of Gettysburg; shortly before his death he wrote this, “I went, it is not long ago, to stand again on that crest whose one day's crown of fire has passed into the blazoned coronet of fame...I sat there alone, on the storied crest, till the sun went down as it did before over the misty hills, and the darkness crept up the slopes, till from all earthly sight I was buried as with those before. But oh, what radiant companionship rose around, what steadfast ranks of power, what bearing of heroic souls. Oh, the glory that beamed through those nights and days...The proud young valor that rose above the mortal, and then at last was mortal after all."

I can only hope that this prequel Rush to the Summit proves to be as well-received as Chamberlain’s Charge. Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine certainly deserve to be remembered – Mort Künstler

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Making of a Masterpiece - Phase 6

The painting is almost finished and Mort Künstler has painted the heat of the day, the rough terrain, the symbolic battle flag, and the brave soldiers of this time in a striking detailed style, which helps the viewer relive this instant in history. These are just a few of the elements that make up the extraordinary artwork of Mort Künstler.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Making of a Masterpiece - Phase 5

Having lived in Gettysburg all of my life it gives me pause when I look at the dramatic images that Mort Künstler has painted of my hometown.

The first time I saw Rush to the Summit it was on the easel in Mort’s studio, close to completion, and all I could say at first was wow! As most of you know, Mort has painted Chamberlain before, but he has certainly captured an exceptional moment in Rush to the Summit! While there were two opposing sides to the Civil War, I always remind myself that the soldiers who fought were Americans, in a very new nation. The struggles they faced whether dressed in blue or gray were similar, and I have great respect for both sides.
Debra Starry
Dealer Development
American Spirit Publishing

Once the painting is finished, up close you will see the beads of sweat running down the faces of the 20th Maine as they rush to what they hope will be a victory

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has always been one of my favorite characters from the Civil War. A citizen soldier who forged an extraordinary military career, he went on to a civilian life that was nothing short of spectacular: President of Bowdoin College, acclaimed classroom instructor, and four-time Governor of Maine. Like Lee, he was a man of exceptional character, and his appeal seems to be universal. Today, Chamberlain seems to have as many admirers in the South as he does in the North. - Mort Künstler

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Making of a Masterpiece - Phase 4

Tom Chamberlain, the younger brother and also the aid of J.L. Chamberlain started to appear. He was the youngest brother of J. L. Chamberlain. While there has not been much written about Thomas, we do know that he was born April 29, 1841. Devoted to his older brother, he fought beside him in many battles during the Civil War. He died at the age of 55 from chest ailments that had plagued him most of his life.

The 20th Maine Regiment was "mustered in" on August 20, 1862 and ended their service July 16, 1865.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Making of a Masterpiece - Rush to the Summit - Phase 3

You can see the copse of trees starting to come alive

In this picture, you can also see Mort's paint tray below the painting. Through the years he has developed unique ways of handling his tools, one of which is using the caps of spray cans as recipients for the thinner he uses to clean his brushes!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

a Rush to match the rush around here!

If Mort has ever done a painting that so perfectly matches the mood around the studio at present, it’s ‘Rush to the Summit.’ The combination of men on horseback and infantry rushing past, all with a great sense of urgency in their carriage and expressions, make for a very stirring painting. The Autograph Seekers was a beautiful pause in a lush setting; Rush to the Summit has a kind of sublime pre-combat tension to it. The smoke of the battle hasn’t settled in yet, so we see how much rides in this moment on Chamberlain and his men, rushing through a clearing to face an outcome unknown to them.

What we do here for Mort doesn’t compare to heading into battle. I do know, though, that part of my genuine love of this piece comes from identifying with that great sense of urgency. The leather-bound edition of The Red Badge of Courage has been just flying out of here since we posted it on the website. Plus, ‘The Autograph Seekers of Bel Air’ has rightfully charmed nearly every fan from here to Tierra del Fuego, and it seems we can’t get them out quickly enough! I may have to save up and get a print before we’re sold out. And we all keep battening down hatches to keep from floating away in all of this rain; at least Mort is at work on a painting set in the sunny South, so he has some light in his days. I may still have to order him the windshield wipers he’d like for his skylight, though.


The Making of a Masterpiece - Rush to the Summit - Phase 2

The canvas all drawn up. The actual size of the painting is 20" x 38"

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Release: Rush to the Summit

Thirty-four year-old Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain’s orders were clear and urgent: Move your regiment and do it fast. It was the second day at the Battle of Gettysburg, and General Robert E. Lee’s formidable Army of Northern Virginia was making its attack. The day before, Lee’s hard-fighting troops had broken the Federal line and had driven Northern troops through the town of Gettysburg in defeat and near panic. They had been stopped and reformed on a new line atop defensible high ground called Cemetery Ridge – and now Lee had struck again.

The Making of a Masterpiece: Rush to the Summit
Phase 1

Rush to the Summit presents Chamberlain at a critical moment in the battle of Gettysburg. It’s a prequel to an earlier and very popular work of mine – Chamberlain’s Charge – which depicts the climax of Chamberlain’s famous and heroic defense of Little Round Top. Rush to the Summit shows Chamberlain on horseback before he dismounted, ordering the 20th Maine up the hill to the summit of Little Round Top. – Mort Künstler

Preliminary sketches

Thursday, July 2, 2009

a stirring Rush to the Summit

I've spent a few minutes falling in love again with the latest painting Mort's sending out into the world. I so very badly want a copy- and I do see a lot of paintings. They all possess a unique pull and depth of character that speak to me in different ways each time I see one. Some of them, though, have a particular power to reach into me personally and draw out surprisingly potent reactions. These pieces are evocative in a way that has little at first to do with my head, and everything to do with a strong gut connection to the image. ‘Rush to the Summit’ has had that effect each time I’ve seen it, and it’s not simply because I find Joshua Chamberlain a fascinating figure. In art, as in life, dashing men in uniform certainly have great appeal, and Chamberlain does deliver as that here on his horse. But something of the light in the trees, the mix of men mounted and rushing forward on foot, their expressions, and what I know they go to face, combine to hook me thoroughly at first (and every) glance. I very selfishly can’t wait for this release!


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 2001-2017. 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.