History in Photos
The Künstler family moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1961. It was an exciting adventure for the family and they did not return to the United States until 1963. Some of the best times were when they received visits from friends from the States. One of Mort Künstler’s closest friends at that time was another young illustrator, James Bama, pictured here. Bama would eventually move out to Wyoming and become a well known painter of western subject matter.
Shown here are Hans and Linda Rienecker, publishers of Dietz Art, with former Senator Bob Dole in his office in Washington, D.C. Senator Dole accepted the Ellis Island trilogy of serigraphs on canvas on behalf of the United States Senate. This event took place in 1986 as part of the ongoing celebration of the reopening of the Statue of Liberty.
In 1988, Bill Treadaway, left, Director of the Printing Industries of the Carolinas (PICA) and Bill Hall, of Hall Printing in High Point, came to the Oyster Bay home of Mort Künstler to talk about a commission of a painting commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the US Constitution. The meeting resulted in the painting of “We, the People . . .”
Robert Anderson, CEO of Rockwell International, Mrs. Anderson, Deborah and Mort Künstler are seen here at the opening of the exhibition, “An American Adventure” at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 1981. The painting shown is “First Launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia,” one of a series of paintings Mort Künstler completed documenting the building, testing, first launch and touch down of the Columbia. Commissioned by Rockwell International, prime contractor of the Shuttle, the paintings are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Science and Technology in Los Angeles.
Robert Anderson, CEO of Rockwell International, prime contractor for the Space Shuttle visited Mort Künstler in his studio in Oyster Bay, New York in 1980. Rockwell had commissioned Künstler to document the building, testing, first launch and touchdown of the first space shuttle. Künstler did more than forty paintings, drawings and sketches that are now in the collection of the Museum of Science and Technology in Los Angeles. Mr. Anderson visited the artist's studio when he wished to see the progress of the first painting in the series, appropriately titled “First Rollout,” showing the Enterprise being pushed out of the hangar for the first time.
Famed World War II hero Admiral Arleigh A. “31 Knots” Burke is flanked by Mort Künstler and Commander Tad Damon, director of the U.S. Navy Memorial Museum in Washington, DC at the preview opening of the Mort Künstler exhibit, “Epic Paintings of World War II” held at the Museum on December 7, 1982. Admiral Burke, after viewing the forty-four Künstler paintings, wrote “To a wonderful artist - Mort Künstler - with great appreciation and admiration.”
Ronald Bowers, President of the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County, Maryland, presents Mort Künstler with an official commendation on the occasion of the opening of the one-man exhibition of Künstler’s paintings entitled “The American Spirit” on October 4, 1986. The exhibit was at the Washington County Museum of Fine Art in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Mort Künstler’s original painting, The Charge at Trevilian Station is unveiled at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina in April 1997. Pictured with Mort Künstler is Angie Whaley LeClercq, director of the school’s Daniel Library.
Hans Reinecker, publisher of Dietz Art, presents serigraphs on canvas of Mort Künstler’s Ellis Island trilogy to the White House in a ceremony in 1986. When President Ronald Reagan left office, he took the three serigraphs with him and today, the trilogy can be seen at the Ronald Reagan Library in California.
On October 20, 1985, a preview of the Mort Künstler exhibit, “Epic Paintings of America” at Hammer Galleries in New York City was well attended and included famed bird and wildlife artist Arthur Singer (center, with glasses.)
On October 22, 1979, there was a preview of the Mort Künstler exhibit, “Epic Paintings of America.” It was Künstler’s second show at Hammer Galleries in New York City and the turnout was excellent. All the paintings were sold on opening night. Celebrating the evening are Richard Lynch, at that time manager and today, the President of the Gallery, Mort Künstler and the late Victor Hammer who ran the Gallery until his death in 1985.
Mr. and Mrs. Tweed Roosevelt and Mrs. Frances Roosevelt at the preview opening of a one-man exhibition of Mort Künstler’s paintings; “Old Glory’s Proudest Moments” at Old Orchard Museum, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay, New York. They stand before the Künstler painting “The Great White Fleet Sails” featuring their ancestor, President Theodore Roosevelt, during the summer of 1978.
Mort Künstler and Governor David Beasley of South Carolina chat as Künstler shows the Governor paintings in his book The American Spirit. The occasion was a visit to the Governor’s Mansion in 1996.
July of 1986, during the celebration of the reopening of the Statue of Liberty, Congressman Frank Guarini of New Jersey and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil accepted the Ellis Island trilogy of serigraphs on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Thomas S. Gulotta, the County Executive of Nassau County in New York and Mort Künstler are seen here at the county’s Annual Arts Recognition Luncheon on August 24, 1995. Mr. Gulotta is presenting the 1995 Annual Visual Artist Award to Mort Künstler.
On October 20, 1985, Hammer Galleries in New York City gave Mort Künstler his fifth one-man exhibition. It was an important event as it showed the first painting of his Ellis Island series, Freedom, as well as his first venture into the sculpture medium with a bronze entitled Call to Freedom. There was also great anticipation for his new book at the time, the first edition of The American Spirit - The Paintings of Mort Künstler, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. with text by Henry Steele Commager. Mort Künstler is pictured here with M. Stephen Doherty, editor-in-chief of American Artist magazine and author of the biographical chapter in the book.
On the night of November 16, 1992, Hammer Galleries in New York City celebrated the preview opening of the Mort Künstler exhibition, “Images of the Civil War.” It also coincided with the release of Künstler’s new book by the same title. Present at the opening was historian Rod Gragg, author of the book Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher. Rod Gragg and Mort Künstler pose in front of the painting, “The Gunner and the Colonel,” which portrays the Battle of Fort Fisher. The painting would later become the cover for the paperback edition!
On August 4, 2001, Mort Künstler received the prestigious Henry Timrod Southern Culture Award from the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, an international historical association of descendants of the Southern officer corps during the War Between the States. Kunstler was awarded the honor in recognition of his book, The Confederate Spirit: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, which features many of his images from the Civil War and a narrative by Civil War historian Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. Shown here are Honorable Richard B. Abell, Chairman, Military Order of the Stars and Bars; Mort Künstler; Scott Bowden and William Ward, co-recipients of Douglas Southall Freeman Award.
On October 22, 1979, Mort Künstler had his second one-man exhibition at the Hammer Galleries in New York City. It also was the occasion for the release of the first book of Künstler’s art, Mort Künstler’s Epic Paintings of America with a text by Henry Steele Commager. The photo shows, from left to right, Richard Lynch, director of Hammer Galleries, Deborah Künstler, Professor Commager, and Mort Künstler.
On January 11, 1998, The Nassau County Museum of Art opened a one-man exhibit called The Civil War - The Paintings of Mort Künstler. The show included more than 130 paintings, drawings and studies and one sculpture. They were gathered from public and private collections all over the United States. It was billed as the largest exhibit of Civil War art ever held in the New York Metropolitan area and turned out to be a milestone and memorable event for the museum. It broke all attendance records with more than 30,000 people visiting during the seven-week run of the show. This photograph shows the line of people waiting for admission.
January 12, 1977 was a grand event for the Künstler family. The first one-man show Mort Künstler ever had was held at the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences. The Director of the Museum at the time, John Surovek, now a prominent art dealer in Palm Beach, was the man responsible for the show. In this photo, Mr. Surovek is showing Mort and Deborah Künstler the exhibit shortly before it opened.
Former President Jimmy Carter holds up the Mort Künstler painting First View of the Lady with Archbishop Iakovas as Rosalyn Carter looks on. This was at a dinner in 1986 in New York City and was the year the reconditioned Statue of Liberty reopened.
On October 27, 1986, after years of effort, Lee Iacocca, the Chairman of the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation saw his dream come true. The statue had reopened and the Ellis island restoration project was well along. That evening, the Ellis Island Medals of Honor Awards dinner was held. The three Mort Künstler paintings were featured at the dinner. Freedom appeared on the cover of the Anniversary Journal. The late Cardinal O’Connor, Muhammad Ali, and Lee Iacocca posed in front of the Künstler painting The Great Hall.
Mort Künstler sits in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle in Houston in 1980 as one of the engineers explains some of the intricate workings of the instruments. Künstler became so interested in the project that he formally applied to NASA to become the first artist to go into space!
Governor James and Roxane Gilmore of Virginia stand next to the painting Candlelight and Roses with Deborah and Mort Künstler. The occasion was a dinner in honor of the artist at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond. At that time Governor Gilmore officially declared March 18, 1999 Mort Künstler Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Mort Künstler is being interviewed at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. This was in 1986 at the presentation of the serigraph, “First View of the Lady,” center, to the Academy Museum. The museum staff had been helpful in the research for the ship in the painting.
In 1992, the book Images of the Civil War - The Paintings of Mort Künstler with text by Dr. James McPherson was published by Gramercy, a division of Random House. As part of the celebration, an exhibition of paintings was organized that was shown at Gettysburg National Military Park, from May 15 to August 1, 1992. This was the first one-man exhibition of a living artist ever given at the Park Museum. Mort Künstler was given the same honor of being the first artist ever to have a one-man show at the beautiful Hall of Valor Museum at the New Market Battlefield in Virginia from August 15 to October 15, 1992. The exhibition then moved on to open at Hammer Galleries in New York City on November 16. It was there at the preview opening that this photo was taken of Künstler with the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, Dr. James McPherson.
Jeff Rouse, the Olympic swimming champion and gold medal winner for the 100-meter backstroke at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, poses with Mort Künstler. Mr. Rouse, a fan of the artist, showed his medal to Künstler at an appearance Künstler made at Fredericksburg Historical Prints, in Virginia.
April 12, 1981 brought Mort Künstler to the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the first launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. He is shown here doing oil studies on site before the launch, which took place at 7:00:10 EST.
In 1989, Mort and Deborah Künstler were invited to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College Foundation’s annual Semper Fidelis Award Dinner as honored guests. Seated at their table, as dinner partners were John Glenn and his wife, Annie. In this photo, Kunstler is showing the Glenns the Space Age chapter of his book, “The American Spirit,” which came out in 1986 and was reissued in 1994.
Mort Künstler with Julia Jackson Christian Preston, the granddaughter of “Stonewall” Jackson, and her daughter, Mrs. Cortlandt P. Creech at the Presbyterian Home, in High Point, North Carolina. A “Stonewall” Jackson room had been established at the home in honor of Mrs. Preston and was decorated with Künstler prints. Mrs. Preston had requested to meet the artist. Mrs. Preston was 102 at the time of this photo in 1989; she died two years later.
At the preview opening of the Mort Künstler exhibit at Hammer Galleries in New York City in October of 1986, Künstler was busily autographing copies of his new book “The American Spirit.”
Mort Künstler is seen here with famed historian Henry Steele Commager and his wife, Mary, on October 22, 1979 at the opening of a one-man exhibition of Künstler’s work at the Hammer Galleries, in New York City. Entitled “Epic Paintings of America” it also celebrated the release of Künstler’s first book, of the same name, with a text by Professor Commager.
Mort Künstler is seen here in front of Fraunce’s Tavern in New York City on July 4, 1976, the 200th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The occasion is the unveiling of “Reading the Declaration of Independence to the Troops.” Along with Künstler are officials of American Cyanamid, the company that commissioned the painting. Fraunce’s Tavern housed the Departments of Foreign Affairs, the Treasury, and War, from 1785 - 1787. George Washington delivered his famous farewell to his officers here. During this week in 1976, the Tavern causes considerable notice in the press as it coincides with a visit to New York City of Queen Elizabeth.
Mort and Debbi Künstler are seen here on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before the presentation of the Ellis Island trilogy to Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil in 1986.
The artist, Leroy Neiman with Mort Künstler at the preview opening of “Jackson and Lee, Legends in Gray” held at the Hammer Galleries in New York City on October 16, 1995. The event also celebrated the release of the book of the same name with the paintings of Mort Künstler and text by famed historian James I. Robertson, Jr.
Lou Reda, producer of the famed CBS miniseries “The Blue and the Gray” and many other TV shows, chats with Jane Künstler Broffman, the artist’s daughter, at the preview opening of Mort Künstler’s exhibition, “Epic Paintings of America” on the evening of November 22, 1992.
In 1975, Mort Künstler was commissioned by Circle Fine Art and the Amateur Athletic Union to do the official lithograph of their indoor championship meet at Madison Square Garden, New York. Here Künstler sketches on the floor of the Garden during the meet.
New York Governor Mario Cuomo made a speech in New York City at ceremonies dedicating the reopening of the Statue of Liberty at which the Mort Künstler trilogy on immigration - First View of the Lady, Main Hall - Ellis Island and Freedom - was featured. Attending the Awards Dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria on October 27, 1986 were such luminaries as Bob Hope, Vic Damone, Lee Iacocca, Diahann Carrol, Alan Shepard, John Denver, Cardinal John O’Connor and Barbara Walters!
Mort Künstler was obviously happy in this photo taken with Gary Libby, Curator, and John Surovek, Director of the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences. It took place at the museum on the opening night, January 13, 1977, of the exhibition, “Mort Künstler: Master Illustrator.” It was the very first one-man show Mort Künstler had ever had!
On July 8, 2000, an exhibit of Mort Künstler’s work, “The Confederate Spirit: Valor, Sacrifice, and Honor” opened at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. The exhibit was the museum’s first one-man show ever given to a contemporary artist and ran for three months. Pictured here at the opening are (l.-r.) Robin Reed, Executive Director of the Museum, Virginia Governor James Gilmore and Mort Künstler.
Editor Noah Sarlat presents the Mort Künstler cover painting of the December 1961 issue of Stag Magazine to General Curtis LeMay in the Pentagon office of the General. The cover story is titled “The American General Russia Fears Most – Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay.”
Mort Künstler chats with George Orrison and Kaye Bayliss of Applegate Art in Winchester, VA. They had come to New York City for the opening of an exhibition in celebration of the publication of Künstler’s book, Images of the Civil War with text by James M. McPherson. The event took place at Hammer Galleries, on November 16, 1992, and also marked the 15th anniversary of Künstler’s first one-man show at the gallery.
Mort Künstler is shown here with Raymond Beck, historian for the State Capital in Raleigh, North Carolina. Künstler was on a fact-finding trip to Raleigh to research his painting, “Winter Riders.” Mr. Beck says, “As far as I know, [Winter Riders] is probably the most accurate representation of 1860’s Raleigh that’s ever been painted – and it may be the only one.”
Mort Künstler with Richard Lynch, President of Hammer Galleries and Hans Reinecker of Dietz Art, who commissioned the Ellis Island trilogy. The occasion is the showing for the first time of the three paintings in a one-man exhibition of Künstler’s works at Hammer Galleries in New York City on October 20, 1985.
Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., distinguished alumni professor at Virginia Tech, and Mort Künstler at the preview opening of “The Confederate Spirit.” The exhibition at Hammer Galleries in New York City took place on December 4, 2000 and was in celebration of the publication of Künstler’s new book, “The Confederate Spirit” with text by Professor Robertson.
On October 16, 1995, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., distinguished alumni professor at Virginia Tech posed with Mort Künstler in front of the painting, “The Virginia Orphan.” The occasion was the preview opening at Hammer Galleries in New York City called “Jackson and Lee, Legends in Gray.” It also celebrated the release of their new book by the same title. Later, Dr. Robertson would say of the painting, “no other depiction of Jackson better captures the image of the Virginia Orphan.” No small compliment coming from the man considered the world’s foremost authority on Stonewall Jackson.
In 1989, The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Foundation commissioned Mort Künstler to do a painting entitled “Shall I Board Her, Sir?” On February 24, 1990 at their annual Semper Fidelis Award Dinner, the painting was unveiled by Mort Künstler and presented to Lt. Gen. Went, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Signed and numbered prints of the painting were put up for sale for the first time as a fundraiser for the organization.
On July 12, 1980, Mort Künstler was at the National Space Technology Laboratories in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to witness the test firing of the main engine of the Space Shuttle. He is seen asking questions of the engineer in charge.
Mort Künstler in front of the easel in 1994 with the painting, sketch, and mock up of the Buffalo Soldiers Stamp he painted for the U.S. Postal Service.