Richard Koppe American, 1916-1973


Richard Koppe was among the handful of early Chicago modern painters who studied under German Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy. After attending the St. Paul School of Art in Minnesota, Koppe arrived in Chicago in 1937 to attend " The New Bauhaus," the legitimate successor to the German Bauhaus. At this time while working under Nagy, Archipenko and Kepes, Koppe developed his own brand of sophisticated abstraction.


Koppe was one of the few abstract painters to work for the WPA art program in Chicago. During the 1940's, his work was widely exhibited in American museums including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. After W.W. II, he joined the faculty of the famous Institute of Design where he became head of the art department in 1949. From 1963 until his death, Koppe was a professor of painting at the University of Illinois Chicago.


Koppe received wide exposure during his lifetime. He was the subject of a 1961 retrospective at the Institute of Design (ID), over the course of his career he had exhibited over thirty one person shows, and was featured in more than one hundred group exhibitions, some of which traveled internationally. He established an archive of his works at Syracuse University, New York, in 1965. Koppe is frequently included in publications on the Bauhaus. He also prepared several unpublished articles about the Chicago Bauhaus that are on deposit at the UIC Library. He committed suicide in 1973.


Koppe was a painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, muralist, designer and educator, assuming all these various roles with equal ease and accomplishment. It is highly unusual to find an artist like Koppe, who can sustain his momentum of a search for form through several media. Not only has he done this but he has made the transition from one medium to another seem natural and inevitable.


Art Institute of Chicago Beaux Arts Palace

Brooklyn Museum, New York

Carnegie Institute

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Denver Art Museum, Colorado

Illinois State Art Museum

La Naponle Art Foundation

Los Angeles Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Musée d' Art Moderne

Musée des Beaux-Arts

National Academy of Design, New York

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Salle des Fêtes

San Francisco Art Museum

Smith College Museum of Art

Toledo Museum, Ohio

University of Chicago, Illinois

University of Illinois

University of Indiana

University of Minnesota

University of Nebraska

Wadsworth Athenaeum, Connecticut

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Museums and Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago

Brooklyn Museum, New York

Illinois State Museum

Indiana University

Smith College Museum of Art

University of Minnesota

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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