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Yugoslavia, 1912 - 1998

Born in Yugoslavia in 1912, Gustav Likan achieved international fame as an artist early in life. He has long been noted in Europe for his portraits of royalty and heads of state. After coming to America, his color genius caught fire and he emerged as one of the most important colourists of the twentieth century.


Likan studied restoration under the greatest European masters. This served to further develop his skills. His summers were spent in Holland, Italy, and France, exploring the museums and sketching and painting 10 to 14 hours a day.

Gustav Likan.jpg

After earning fame as a portrait artist, Likan immigrated to South America and then to the United States, arriving in Chicago in 1957. He was promptly appointed as an instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where he taught until 1967.


Possessed of a highly individualistic philosophy, Likan was an outspoken critic of gimmickry in art, referring to it distastefully as “intellectual conjecture”. Instead, he believed in the unifying nature of art stating:

“The function of art is the creation of beauty. The artist has the power to create in others his pleasurable excitement, thereby sharing with them aesthetic experiences.”