Creativity and talent thrive in the city of Chicago. Explore the lives and works of these famous Chicago Artists.

Arnold Friberg

Born in Winnetka, IL in 1913, Arnold Friberg moved with his family to Arizona when he was three, but would return to Illinois after high school to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He also studied in New York City at the Grand Central School of Art under Harvey Dunn, alongside Norman Rockwell. He is well known for his illustrations for several advertising campaigns, including a campaign for Chevrolet featuring illustrations of the most well known college football games. He also did illustrations for Cecille B. DeMille’s production of The Ten Commandments, which were used as a visual base for the scenes and characters for the movie, earning Friberg an Academy Award nomination. He is well known for his portrait of George Washington in “The Prayer at Valley Forge” and was also commissioned to do portraits of the Royal British Family.

Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925. A self-taught artist, (though he did spend one semester at the Art Insitute of Chicago) he is most well known for writing and illustrating macabre books. He attended Harvard University, where he roomed with New York School poet Frank O’Hara. His work can be classified as literary nonsense. He produced over one hundred books in his lifetime, some of which were wordless. Most of his work was enjoyed by children, though some of his books, such as The Object Lesson, gained critical respect as surrealist art. He is well known for his animated credits to the PBS series Mystery!.

Ed Paschke

Known as “Mr. Chicago,” Ed Paschke was born and raised in the city. He would receive both his Bachelor’s and Masters degree in art from the Art Institute of Chicago, and would posthumously have a stretch of Monroe Ave. bordering the north side of the Art Institute honorarily named after him. He was heavily influenced as a child by the comic strips he read in the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times. He learned to paint in the influence of expressionism and abstraction, but his style of painting can be described as representational imagery. He often used images of famous figures in his work, including Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Elvis Presley. He became a full time professor of art at Northwestern University in 1978, and remained there until he passed away in 2004.

Svend Rasmussen Svendsen

Born in Norway in 1864, Svend Rasmussen Svendsen emigrated to the United States when he was seventeen, settling in Chicago. He would have several exhibits at The Art Institute of Chicago, and would win several awards for his work shown there. His art was also shown at The Minnesota State Fair,the Chicago Norske Klub and the St. Louis Exhibition, where he won an award in 1904. He made his home in Chicago, raising a family there, and passing away in the city in 1945.

Rena Rago

Born Rena Rogers in Oklahoma, but moved herself to Chicago when she was seventeen, where she would meet and marry a chemist name James Rago. She received her Bachelor degree in education and Master’s in Art at Governer’s State University in University Park, IL, thirty miles south of Chicago. Her specialty as an artist was in oil painting. She would teach art in Romeoville, IL for many years, and also served as a private art tutor. She passed away at the age of 85 in 2007.