Emil Ganso was born in Halberstadt, Germany in 1895. Ganso possessed a desire to draw at an early age, but he was apprenticed to a local baker. His baking was inconsistent and he was eventually fired. This situation repeated itself with almost every baker in Halberstadt. After burning himself in a bakery accident, Ganso was hired on with the Lloyd’s Line as the ship’s dishwasher. On his sixth trip in 1912, he disembarked in Hoboken and took a job at a bakery.
In 1914 Ganso enrolled at the National Academy’s School of Fine Arts and began developing a body of work. Ganso met Erhard Weyhe of the Weyhe Gallery and he was so impressed with Ganso’s work that he bought his entire portfolio and placed him on a weekly retainer so that he could work exclusively on his art. Ganso’s first exhibition at the Weyhe Gallery in 1925 was a success and he continued to exhibit annually at Weyhe through 1936.
Ganso spent summers at the artist’s colony, Woodstock, eventually starting his own summer classes in the graphic arts. Ganso worked in all aspects of intaglio, woodcuts, stencil prints and monotype. He personally printed the majority of his prints as well as the works of other artists, such as Kuniyoshi, Arnold and Heckman.
Ganso returned to Europe in 1929 and in 1935 he joined the Federal Arts Project in New York, staying until 1937 by which time he had completed 11 prints. Ganso was awarded the Pennell Memorial Medal by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1938 and he began teaching at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1940. Ganso died in Iowa in 1941.