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Otto Stark

male 1859-1926
Era:
19th/20th Century
Life city:
Indianapolis, IN
Work city:
Indianapolis, IN
Teachers:
Lefebvre
Boulanger
Cormon
Styles:
Flowers
Illustrations
Landscapes
Murals
Paintings
Portraits
Rivers
Watercolors
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re: Otto Stark -



  • Marion County

We're very interested in buying artwork by Otto Stark. Please contact us for more information.

Otto Stark was born in Indianapolis, IN on January 29, 1859 to a family of established old world artisans. His father and grandfather were talented woodworkers and Stark originally studied carving and cabinet making at a local factory. This path was cut short due to a leg injury and soon Stark began to study lithography in Cincinnati, OH in 1875. He worked for several firms creating design plates, in addition to attending night classes at the School of Design of the University of Cincinnati.

In 1877, Stark moved to New York City in the hope of gaining further artistic training. In addition to studying at the Art Student League, Stark continued to work professionally as a lithographer, designer, and illustrator. It was during this six-year stay that Stark began to exhibit his work publicly, participating in the 1882 National Academy of Design Autumn Exhibition and the annual show of the American Water Color Society.

Stark moved to Paris in 1885 with the hopes of studying art more intensively. He was accepted into the Academie Julian, a well-respected institution, second only to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Stark studied, primarily, with Gustave Clarence Rodolphe Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. Both men favored the more rigid and established painting aesthetics that was promoted by various artistic institutions. This was in sharp contrast to the emerging interest in Impressionism, a style that had yet to be embraced by the art establishment. Stark’s work from this time would regularly demonstrate the intermingling of these two approaches.

Stark’s time in Paris was notable for a number of reasons. He married a young woman, Marie Nitschelm, in 1886 and the couple had their first child there, in 1887. Professionally, Stark’s work began to gain more critical attention. This was evident when one of his paintings was selected for exhibition for the jury of the illustrious Paris Salon of 1887. Soon after, Stark finished his studies at the Academie Julian, and the young family moved to New York City.

In New York, Stark worked as a commercial artist doing illustration work for various magazines. Money was a constant worry, for they had a second baby soon after their move. Stark continued to paint in his spare time, though, and began to exhibit his work more frequently. The Starks left New York for Philadelphia in 1890, where Stark continued his commercial work.

By the next year, Otto and Marie had two more sons. After the birth of the last child, however, Marie’s health began to rapidly decline and she died suddenly in November, 1891.

Soon after Marie’s death, Stark moved his family back to Indianapolis so that his father and sister might help with the child-rearing responsibilities while Stark looked for work. Stark worked in Cincinnati, OH for the next two years as a designer for a lithography company. On a personal level, 1892 was a pivotal year for Stark, for he became a born-again Christian. This commitment seemed to dramatically improve his spirit, and in
1893, Stark moved to Indianapolis to join his children and open a studio.

Stark began teaching oil and watercolor painting classes out of his studio, while also continuing to exhibit his own work. This included participating in the well-known ‘Hoosier Group’ show that traveled to Chicago and solidified Stark’s reputation as one of the region’s finer painters.

In 1899, Stark took a position as Supervisor of Art at Manual Training High School in Indianapolis. The post provided Stark was a steady income to support his young family, in addition to allowing him the opportunity to shape a school’s curriculum to best inspire and assist aspiring artists. Stark became a member of the John Herron Art Institute’s faculty in 1905. This allowed him a wider range of opportunities to mentor young artists, in addition to holding weekly gallery talks designed to engage the broader Indianapolis citizenry.

Stark would continue to teach at both institutions until 1919. During that time, he managed to continue his own paintings, as well as participating in several major artistic undertakings. These included creating a large mural for Indianapolis Public School #60, collaborating with other artists to create murals for the Indianapolis City Hospital, participating in various World War I-related volunteer efforts, and, in one of his last projects as an instructor, overseeing the creation of murals by Manuel High School students that would be installed in selected public schools.

Stark died in April of 1926, after several years spent painting in Indianapolis and in Florida with his friend J. Ottis Adams. Although he worked hard and successfully to distinguish himself as a talented landscape and portrait painter, Stark’s impact was perhaps most clearly seen in the numerous young artists he taught and mentored during his time as an instructor.

We are very interested in purchasing artwork by Otto Stark.
Please contact us if you have pieces you are considering selling.

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Can you tell us more about the life or art of Otto Stark? Please contact us if you can add to our biography.

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