John Ihle Biography

John Ihle




John Livingston Ihle, printmaker and educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois on 1 February 1925 to Chester and Martha Ihle. He spent many summers of his childhood at the uncle’s farm near Thief River Falls, Minnesota and winters in Sarasota, Florida. At a young age he showed an aptitude for art and he took special art classes in high school.

During World War II, Ihle served in the U.S. Armed Services and was injured during a counter-attack at Strüth, Germany. After his discharge, he took a series of tests at the Illinois Institute of Technology and he was counseled to choose scientific illustration. A recipient of the GI Bill, he enrolled at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1946 where he majored in art and science. While there he came under the influence of two young instructors, Francis Chapin, a former student of Hans Hofmann, and Charles White, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa and student of Mauricio Lasansky. Ihle stated, “I found myself devoting as much time as possible to the copper plate and continued in printmaking the remaining years as an undergraduate student at Illinois Wesleyan University.”

During the summer of 1949, Ihle enrolled at the University of Iowa to study printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky. He returned to Wesleyan in the fall and received his B.F.A. in 1950. Ernest Freed, Professor at Bradley University and a Lasansky student, viewed Ihle’s graduate show and offered him graduate assistance at Bradley. Ihle became Freed’s graduate assistant and earned his M.A. degree in 1951.

Ihle moved back to Chicago and took a position as botanical illustrator at the Chicago Museum of Natural History. He became associated with a group of young artists who were recent graduates of the Art Institute of Chicago. Ihle rented a small studio on the Near North Side and his first solo exhibition was at the 750 Studio in Chicago in 1951.

In 1952, Ihle moved to the San Francisco Bay Area hoping to find a teaching position. He shared an apartment on a houseboat on the Sausalito waterfront and a studio on a barge next to the houseboat. In 1954, Ihle enrolled at San Francisco State College for a teaching credential and, in 1955, he was appointed to a full-time position as instructor in art at San Francisco State University where he founded the metal arts and printmaking programs. In 1957, he received the first of three commissions from the International Graphic Arts Society.

Ihle was a member of and exhibited with the Bay Printmakers and the California Society of Printmakers. He was awarded the 1998 Distinguished Artist Award from the California Society of Printmakers.

John Ihle’s work is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; the Monterey Museum of Art, California; the New York Public Library and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Lilley Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Reno; the Northwest Museum of Arts + Culture, Spokane, Washington; the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

John Livingston Ihle died on 30 November 2002 in Marin County, California.