Collection Spotlight

A view of two houses on a spring day with dogwood tree blooming.Untitled
(Springtime in Athens, Ohio), 1964.
David F. Driesbach (1922 - 2019)

While this untitled en plein air watercolor is not typical of Driesbach’s printmaking style, it does represent the breadth of the NIU Art Museum’s archive of the prolific artist’s work.

Driesbach attended life drawing sessions, sketched from life on buses and trains and made studies such as this one to keep himself artistically limber, like a musician practicing scales.

After a long, productive and inspiring life, David F. Driesbach passed away last month at the age of 97. Driesbach enjoyed a close relationship with the NIU Art Museum, which hosted his first retrospective exhibition in 1991 following his retirement from the university. It was after this exhibition that Driesbach’s family donated a substantial number of his original prints, working proofs, drawings, watercolors, oil paintings, printing plates and even engraving tools to the Art Museum’s permanent collection.

In 2009, he and his working process were the subject of a traveling exhibition organized by NIU Museum Studies Graduate Certificate students and a second retrospective was shown in 2018 at Rockford University with a number of works on loan from the Art Museum and Assistant Director Peter Olson, Driesbach’s last Graduate Student before retiring. “While he was the oldest faculty member at the time, he had the youngest mind,” Olson recalls, “every day brought more innovative ideas and crazy new etching techniques.”

The 64 page illustrated exhibition catalog for his 1991 retrospective is available for sale for $15 from the Art Museum and features an essay by Dr. Jerry Meyer and an artist statement.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of David may be directed to the NIU Foundation for the benefit of the NIU Art Museum (P.O. Box 746, DeKalb, IL 60115).

Obituaries may be found in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and on the Northern Public Radio website.

Image: David F. Driesbach (American 1922-2019). Untitled (Springtime in Athens, Ohio), 1964. Watercolor on paper, (22.5 x30.5 in.). Collection of the NIU Art Museum 2017.92. Gift of the artist’s estate.

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