Weisenborn was born in Chicago on October 31, 1881. As a young man, worked as a
gold miner and cowboy in Colorado to enable himself to study art. He studied
for four years under Jean Mannheim and Henry Reed in Denver. Returning to
Chicago in 1913, he has his first one man show at the Molton and Rickettes
Gallery. In his long and productive career as a leading avant-garde artist he
has had many one-man shows and has participated in countless group exhibitions
throughout the United States.
painting Chicago was shown at the Art Institute of Chicago in the annual
American Exhibition in 1928. Weisenborn has the distinction of being the first
artist to show an abstract painting at the Art Institute. In 1929 two of his
abstract paintings, Chicago and Self-Portrait were again invited to the American
Exhibition at the Art Institute. Ten years later his self-portrait was included
in the important Fifty Years of American Art exhibition. In 1933 Weisenborn was
commissioned to do a large mural for the Century of Progress. His was the only
abstract mural at the Fair.
recognized as an important influence in Chicago art as a pioneer abstract
painter and teacher. He taught at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts from 1922 to
1934 and at his studio from 1934 to 1964. A founder and first president of the
Chicago No Jury Society of Artists from 1922 to 1927, he also served as
president of the Midwest region of Artists' Equity in 1953. His paintings are in
important public and private collections in London, England; Glasgow, Scotland;
Dusseldorf, Germany; and the United States including the Art Institute of
He executed a
number or murals for the W.P.A. of which only two are in existence; they are at
Nettlehorst Elementary School, Chicago. In 1933 he was commissioned to do a
large mural for the Century of Progress. During World War II, and important
mural was executed for Herman Spertus and is depicted in the video tape,
"Chicago Eye of Rudolph Weisenborn" Created by Ron and Cecile Clasky. The video
has been aired twice by Chicago public television station WTTW.
an early artistic leader in Chicago and his importance to the Chicago art scene
is hard to overemphasis. Weisenborn was the only artist, from outside of New
York, that was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group.
He began teaching in 1922 and continued instructing students until 1964. His
role as the leading Chicago painter went unchallenged until the late 1940's,
when he became the artist to react against, instead of the one to follow.
In the 1970s
and 80s we was represented by the Gilman Gallery in Chicago. In the 90s his
work was included in many of the exhibitions at the Struve Gallery, also in