Hugo Gellert was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1892 and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1906. He studied at the Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. He had planned to complete his studies in art at the Academie Julian in Paris, but abandoned the idea at the outbreak of World War I.
Gellert published his first anti-war art in 1916 in the leftist periodical, “The Masses” and in 1918, he worked for the magazine, “The Liberator”. Gellert’s first solo exhibition was held at the Keworkian Gallery in 1923. He became a staff artist for the New Yorker Magazine and the New York Times in 1925 and through these publications millions of Americans became familiar with his work.
In 1927, Gellert was appointed head of the first anti-fascist organization in America. In addition to his activities as a staff artist, Gellert also created a number of public murals and original lithographs. Among his most famous works are “Karl Marx’s ‘Capitol’ in Lithographs”, “Comrade Gulliver” and “Aesop Said So”.
In 1932, the Museum of Modern Art petitioned to have Gellert’s work removed from its collection. Other artists came to his defense and threatened to withdraw their work, forcing the museum to back down.
In 1939, Gellert helped organize the group, “Artists for Defense” and he later became the Chairman for “Artists for Victory”, an organization that included over 10,000 members. Hugo Gellert died in Freehold, New Jersey in 1985.