Gustave Moeller arrived in Milwaukee with his family in 1885. By the time he was in his teens he was apprenticed at a small commercial art studio founded by Edward Steichen and Herman Pfeifer. Moeller, together with Steichen, were two of the first student members of the Milwaukee Art Students’ League that was founded around 1896 by Edward Steichen. Their teachers were Alexander Mueller and Richard Lorenz. Later, while working in Milwaukee as a commercial engraver, he took evening classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1909 he moved on to the Academy of Fine Arts in New York. After studying in New York, he attended classes with Carl von Marr at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany.
When he returned to Milwaukee in 1912, he began teaching art at the School of Fine and Applied Arts, which was absorbed by the Milwaukee State Normal School. He continued there until 1923, by which time he had become the chairman of the art department. In 1927 the Milwaukee State Normal School became the Milwaukee State Teacher’s college and Moeller was appointed Director of Art Education.
Many of Moeller’s regional paintings were of Wisconsin and depicted small town street scenes. He was particularly fond of the small village of Alma located on the Mississippi River in Buffalo County.
Moeller was a member of a men’s sketch club, known as the Walrus Club, the Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Institute, the Milwaukee Art Commission and Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors. Moeller exhibited his work extensively, but seldom outside of Wisconsin. He was never married and died at the age of 49 from surgical complications. In 2005 he was one of the recipients of the WI Visual Art Lifetime Achievement awards.
Selected One-man Exhibitions
1931 Gustave Moeller Retrospective Exhibition, Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
1943 Gustave Moeller Retrospective, Walrus Club, Milwaukee, WI.
1944 Gustave Moeller Retrospective, State Teacher’s College, Milwaukee, WI
1952 Gustave Moeller Retrospective, Charles Allis Art Library, Milwaukee, WI
Selected Group Exhibitions
1923 Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
1926 WI Painters & Sculptors Annual Exh. (Award Winner), Milwaukee Journal Gallery of Wisconsin Art.
1927 Watercolors by Gustave Moeller, Gerrit Sinclair & Peter Rotier, Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
1928 Gustave Moeller, Armin O. Hansen & Raymond Stelzner Joint Exh, Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
1982 Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, Reflections on the Milwaukee Journal Gallery of Wisconsin Art
1988 Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, 100 Years of Wisconsin Art
Gustave Moeller continued:
Awards Given for Art Displays. Milwaukee Journal, April 6, 1926.
Gustave Moeller: Painter of Wisconsin Villages. Milwaukee Journal, May 2, 1926.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Institute. Gustave Moeller: A Memorial Exhibition, 1931.
Milwaukee Art Museum, 100 Years of Wisconsin Art, Wisconsin, c. 1988.
© 9/28/2006 Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend , Wisconsin 6/2/2010