In a 1988 interview in Southwest Art magazine, Gustav Rehberger's long-time friend Ben Stahl called Rehberger "one of the two or three greatest draughtsmen of [the 20th] century."
"After seeing so many incompetent artists touted in all the magazines," lamented Stahl, "it seems damned unfair and short-sighted that a talent like his goes unheralded and unsung."
The public may not have known Gustav Rehberger as well as some other illustrators of the 40's, 50's and 60's, but clients in the magazine, advertising and film industries were certainly well aware of the artist.
In 1959 he illustrated a campaign for Marlboro consisting of six ads. I can't imagine any other artist who could have portrayed the look of the tough guy more emphatically.
Rehberger had already worked on ad campaigns for a great variety of national clients by that time, including Abbot Labs and Amoco, Dupont Textiles, Sheraton Hotels and the United States Treasury, among others.
All the while, Rehberger was also working for Hollywood. Between 1953 and 1976, Gustav Rehberger created advertising and promotional art for films like "Helen of Troy"...
"The Defiant Ones"...
and the NBC Television series, "I Spy".
In all Rehberger worked on 29 film and television productions. Pamela Demme, Rehberger's widow, graciously supplied the photos below of an unused painting from the 1961 production, "One-Eyed Jacks", starring Marlon Brando.
Beginning in 1972, Gustav Rehberger began teaching at The Art Students League in New York City. One of his former students who contacted me wrote, "his hair was long and wild (in the back)and gray, and he always smiled... I never saw him angry or down."
Speaking about her late husband's 21-year-long teaching career at Art Students League, Pamela says, "His students adored him. I agree. He was a master draughtsman and a great teacher. He could teach a lamp post to draw! "
And in an interview in the summer 1975 issue of The Illustrator magazine, Rehberger offered this advice to the aspiring young artist:
"Learn the basic truths thoroughly in order to become strong and able to express yourself in any direction. Many young artists want to be free too soon, before building up reservoirs of knowledge to tap. This kind of unequipped freedom will lead, sooner or later, into an artistic nothingness and make the artist wish he had learned his lessons well."
"I find there is all the freedom in the world within the laws of artistic truth."
* You'll find all of today's images in my Gustav Rehberger Flickr set.