Louis Grell Foundation

"Showcasing the Legacy of Artist Louis Frederick Grell"

Louis Frederick Grell (1887-1960)

watch the Louis Frederick Grell video here


Members of the Tree Studio art colony from 1917

Cincinnati Enquirer “Art All Around US” Netherland Plaza & Carew Tower photos 16-29 are on Grell
January 20, 2013 article from Cincinnati Enquirer on Louis Grell murals inside the Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati

Louie's Bio

Louie’s Bio

Louis Frederick Grell was primarily a muralist and portrait painter focusing specifically on large scale figure composition and portrait painting. Grell was an art instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts from 1916 to 1922, 1940-1960 and at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1922 to 1934. From 1917 through 1941, Grell exhibited his artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago 25 times earning top honors for figure composition and portraiture. Grell studied at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris for a short period before returning to America in 1916.

The renowned Walt Disney was a student of Grell’s at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1917 and 1918.

Grell enjoyed resided at the famous Tree Studio Artists Colony in Chicago’s near north side from 1917 until his death in 1960 with many other famous American artists. Grell’s murals adorn the ceilings and walls of more than 75 architecturally significant National Historic Landmarks across America.

The Spirit of Light

The Spirit of Light

Chicago Theater
20′ x 50′
Grell painted his first mural in the US in 1907 in Salt Lake City depicting the Mormons entering the great Salt Lake basin entitled This is the Place and his last known mural in 1959 titled Keep Looking UP which, even today, stands tall above the main altar inside the historic Peoples Church of Chicago. Other remaining important allegorical masterpieces can still be seen inside numerous National Historic Landmarks including fourteen inside the Chicago Theater, two of three uncovered inside the Palace Theater in Greensburg, PA, the old Pick-Ohio in Youngstown, OH has a large depression era mural inside the lobby (now the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority), the City of Detroit Water Board building lobby & fourth floor Board Room murals and the Manufacturers Bank & Trust (now Lift for Life Academy) St. Louis MO. Additionally, fifty-eight over life-sized religious figures can be seen inside Notre Dame de Chicago, the Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati boosts eighteen murals scattered throughout different exotic locations, the entire ceiling inside the Assumption Catholic Church in Chicago was painted by Grell, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church Chicago has three murals in the entry hall and two large allegorically significant, Pioneer and Indian themed murals, can be found at St. Johns Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. Twenty different locations have been photographed with Grell murals still on display today.

AN ONGOING EFFORT РRecent research efforts have discovered historically significant murals inside the Village of Springville, NY village hall, the Town of Persia, NY city  were all entirely decorated by Grell.

Tree Studio Courtyard

Tree Studio Courtyard, fellow artist residents

“Tree Studio Courtyard”
1959 Oil on Canvas
Resident Artists
22″ x 18″
At Tree Studios artist colony, from 1917 until 1960, Grell associated with some of America’s brightest and most celebrated artistic talent of the first half of the 20th century.

John Singer Sargent sketched in this courtyard.

Neighbors included; “Tarzan and Jane” illustrator J. Allen Saint John, actor Burgess Meredith, sculptor Albin Polasek, artist Macena Barton with her NUDES, artists John and Anna Stacey, Taos artist E. Martin Hennings, (Grell exhibited on numerous occasions with Taos artists E. Martin Hennings, Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins), George Ames Aldrich, Paul Bartlett, John D. Brcin, Frances S. Badger, Boris Ainsfield, Walter C. Brownson, Louis Betts, Nicholas R. Brewer and Adrian L. Brewer, Karl A. Buehr, Edgar S. Cameron and Marie Gelon Cameron, Ethel Lewis Coe, Walter M. Clute, Peter Diem, John Doctoroff, Richard Florsheim, Ruth Van Sickle Ford, Gerald A. Frank, Frederick Freer, Rowena C. Fry, Frederick M. Grant, Oliver Dennett Grover, Indiana Gyberson, Frank B. Hoffman, sculptor Maximillian Hoffman, muralist Charles Holloway, Antoinette B. Hollister, Donald J. Anderson, Lucie Hartrath, Natalie S. Henry, Edward G. Holslag, Marya Lilien, Harry Millhauser, sculptor Michael Thomas Murphy, O. Irwin Myers, Anna Lynch, fellow muralist John W. Norton, Arvid Nyholm, Sam Ostrowsky, Lawton S. Parker, Edgar A. Payne and Elsie P. Payne, Rudolph Pen, Andrew Rebori, Henry Reuterdahl, Wellington J. Reynolds, Louis Rittman, Romolo Roberti, Jim Romano (who hung the original sketch of “Jane” by Grell above his door), Edgar Rupprecht, artist Gordon Saint Clair, George J. Seideneck, Marshall D. Smith, George Sotos, Antonin Sterba, sculptor John Bradley Storrs, Allan L. Swisher, Julia Bracken-Wendt, Charles Sneed Williams, sculptor Emil R. Zettler, Harold Welch and his “Tony the Tiger” was first a student then a neighbor of Grells and impressionist Pauline L. Palmer.

Many believe Tree Studio Artist Colony to be the oldest and most respected resident artist colony in the US producing America’s top creative talents since 1894.


Chicago Ladies Fashion

Chicago Fashioned sketches by Louis Grell
Ladies fashion from 1855 to 1930 by Mandel Brothers 75th anniversary.
Grell had a strong connection with some of the founding members of the Taos Artist Society. In Munich, Grell was a member of the elite American Artists Club with E. Martin Hennings, Walter Ufer, Carl Bohnen and Victor Higggins. When America joined World War I, they collectively relocated to Chicago and exhibited extensively together. E. Martin Hennings lived at Tree Studios near Grell for many years beginning in 1917. Hennings, Ufer, Grell and Higgins exhibited together throughout Chicago in the early part of the 20th Century on numerous occasions in Oak Park, at the Art Institute of Chicago and galleries around the city. Recent research has uncovered Grell paintings exhibited in Santa Fe and several pieces have sold in New Mexico since his death in 1960.

Further discussion on Louis Grell and Walt Disney
In 1960, when an ailing Grell was 72 years old, he and fellow resident artist Donald J. Anderson chained themselves to the last remaining “trees” at Tree Studio in an act of heroism and bravery to help save the building and garden courtyard from demolition.
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