b. Council Bluffs, IA, 1887–d. Chicago, 1960
Louis Grell was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He studied at the School of Applied Arts in Hamburg, Germany, and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Upon his return from Europe, Grell lived in New York before moving to Chicago, where he was offered a job at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He worked as an instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for five years and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) for fifteen years upon being appointed instructor of commercial art in 1922. He devoted most of his career to commercial work, producing interior decorations for movie theaters run by Balaban and Katz.
Grell was primarily known for his murals and portraits. His large painting, Man and Planets, 1935, resembles some of his mural commissions depicting mythological figures. This canvas shows careful attention to the idealized male figure, whose delineated musculature, outstretched arms, and vibrant, orange drapery behind him stand out against a planet-strewn blue sky.
Louis Grell Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives. The Art Institute of Chicago.