Dudley Huppler (1917 - 1988)

Birth date: 8/8/1916 Death date: 8/11/1988  
Birth location: Death location: Boulder,CO  
Media: Drawing Web site:
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Dudley Huppler
Born 1917
Died 1988
Dudley Huppler studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but received no formal art training. His interest in drawing began in the 1940’s in Madison as he became part of a circle of artists, composers, and writers such as Sylvia Fein, Marshall Glasier, Lee Hoiby, James Watrous, and John Wilde. This circle had connections with artists in Milwaukee and Chicago including Gertrude Abercrombie, Karl Priebe, Charles Sebree, Felix Ruvulo and Julia Thecla.  

What brought these artists together was an interest in European Surrealism.  Feeling constrained by the tradition of Realism in the Midwest, Huppler and his colleagues sought to explore new, innovative techniques and subject matter. They wanted to break away from those who believed in creating art aimed at isolating the Midwest, so they turned to Surrealism, an art movement that began in Paris in the 1920’s.  Artists such as Salvador Dali and Man Ray began creating work inspired by Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis.  Their work explored the unconscious as a source of creativity.

Huppler’s style and subject matter is diverse, with elements of humor and mystery.  He loved the experience of drawing, working mostly in pen and ink.  His early work from 1943 includes hard-edged lines with biomorphic structures, but most of his work after 1945 is composed of tiny dots.  In the late 1940’s through the 1950’s he focused on still life and animals. After traveling to Italy in the 1950’s he became interested in fantasy in nature. From the 1960’s onwards Huppler became obsessed with the human figure. The abstract quality of Huppler’s work relates to the style of Jean Arp and Yves Tanguy.  

In 1954, Huppler met Andy Warhol through photographer Otto Fenn. Warhol and Huppler corresponded and exchanged drawings for many years. In the mid-1950’s Huppler lived in New York City where he designed windows for Bonwit Teller and sold drawings to companies such as Parker Pen Co.

In addition to his career as an artist, Huppler wrote two books of surreal prose.  He spent many years traveling and teaching in New York, Italy, and Colorado. In 1966 he returned to Wisconsin where he took a position in the English Department of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  Huppler died in 1988 and while many of his friends have been regionally and nationally recognized, Huppler has remained relatively unknown in the art world.    

Wisconsin Affiliations

No affiliations were found.

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

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