Artist Gertrude Quastler: A Life of Love and Tragedy

Issue Date: 
November 17, 2014

The exhibition at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Art Gallery, designed and installed by Pitt undergraduate students, delves into the stark and sometimes troubling art of Gertrude Quastler.

Exodus#2/Forest by Getrude Quastler

“Restrike: Uncovering the Life and Work of Gertrude Quastler” runs through Dec. 5 at the University Art Gallery  in Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Building. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The undergraduate students are enrolled in the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar within the Department of History of Art and Architecture in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Taught by Pitt instructor Janet McCall, executive director of the Society for Contemporary Craft, the students learned to organize and install the art exhibition through class instruction, visits to museums, and a session with a local collector. 

The student curators drew upon the University Art Gallery’s extensive permanent collection to build the show. This year, they chose approximately 70 pieces created by Quastler, a native Austrian who arrived in New York City in 1939. Known mainly as a printmaker, Quastler worked in many media—oil, watercolor, metal, and wood. She described her own work as being “stimulated by reality.”

“Restrike: Uncovering the Life and Work of Gertrude Quastler” shows how the artist’s life was strung together by love and tragedy. 

Sadness by Getrude Quastler

She became ill with tuberculosis and was treated by her doctor, Henry Quastler, who fell in love with her and married her in 1933. As her health slowly deteriorated, she found solace in her art. Her pieces are known for their quirkiness and humor but with a hint of sinister and surreal elements as well. Quastler died at home in 1963. A few hours later, her husband took a handful of pills, laid down beside her, and died. Quastler’s art was donated to the University Art Gallery by her sister-in-law, who lived in Pittsburgh.

For more information on the exhibition visit, or call 412-648-2423.