Fred Rappaport

b. 1912 Vienna, Austria–d. 1989 Chicago, IL

Fred Rappaport was born in Vienna, Austria in 1912. He graduated from the Akadamie der Bildenden Kunste and went on to study medicine at the University of Vienna. When the Nazi occupation of Austria began he was removed from the university along with all of his fellow Jewish students. Rappaport was fortunate to escape Nazi rule and fled to the United States and finally to Chicago where he continued his medical studies and began to study art. He documented his tale of tragedy and perseverance in his autobiography “Farewell to Vienna”.

Once in Chicago, and away from familial pressure, he again concentrated on the arts. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1942-1943) and the University of Illinois. After graduating, he ventured into the fledgling, novel practice of art therapy (Chicago State Hospital and Veterans Administration Hospital). He was responsible for several innovations in psychiatric art therapy, including the staging of art fairs for institutionalized mental patients. He was multitalented, and opened on an optometry practice, with studio facilities in the rear so that once he had closed the medical practice for the day, he could venture back into his studio and create. 

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, he began painting colorful abstract works, moving away from impressionism and more customary representations of landscapes.    

Rappaport died in Chicago in 1989. Though under-appreciated in his lifetime, he became both an accomplished painter and printmaker. His paintings and prints are in the permanent collections of the Jerusalem Museum of Art; The Illinois State Museum; and the Spertus Museum.