Otto Eugene Hake Biography

Otto Eugene Hake




Otto Eugene Hake was born in Ulm, Germany on December 17, 1876. He and his family emigrated to the United States in 1890, settling is St. Louis. There, Hake apprenticed with a wood engraver and in 1892, moved to Chicago to take a job as a wood engraver and illustrator for the printing company Biner-Wells. In 1898, Hake enlisted in the Spanish American War. His first formal art training began at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905, the same year he received his first mural commission, which was for a Chicago public school. Around this time, Hake also began what would be a life-long teaching career, first at the newly formed Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He also worked as a freelance illustrator and designer.

In 1912, Hake traveled to Paris and Munich to study at the Academie Colarossi and the Debschitz Academy, respectively. Best known as a muralist and instructor, much of Hake’s professional life was focused around the Palette and Chisel Club, where he began teaching classes in the 1920s. In 1910 and 1926-27, he served as the club president, plus edited their journal “The Cow Bell”. He held a membership in the Palette and Chisel for longer than anyone else. Hake was a member of the P&C from 1905 to at least as late as 1957. Hake’s murals decorated the club’s walls. Other Hake murals can be found at the Black Hawk Historic Site, Rock Island, IL and at the DuPage Historical Society in Wheaton, IL. He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in from 1917-1933.

Hake and artist Rudolph Ingerle were close friends and together took painting trips to the Great Smoky Mountains. Possibly because of his friendship with Ingerle, Hake was chosen to be one of the artists in the Westinghouse sponsored Groh Associates 1933 & 1934 World’s Fair exhibitions “Scenes of a Century of Progress” and “Painting by Light”, that was chaired by Ingerle. He also made color woodblock prints of landscape subjects, perhaps as early as the mid-1910s. Hake was best known as a muralist, several of which he executed as part of the federal government’s New Deal relief projects sometimes known collectively as the PWA/WPA. His murals decorated schools and other public buildings in and around Chicago, notably the Museum of Science and Industry and the Lakeshore Athletic Club building (now owned by Northwestern University). After he completed two school mural projects in 1940, Hake effectively retired from Chicago’s art scene

Otto Eugene Hake died in Chicago, Illinois on July 16, 1965 at the age of 89.