Saint Louis University

The Saint Louis University Museum of Art is pleased to announce the installation of Revelation: The Religious Imagination of Russell Kraus in the visiting exhibitions gallery of the newly reinstalled Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions. An artist's reception will be held from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21, 2007. The exhibition is now open to the public.

The visions of John of Patmos have inspired artists throughout history including, most famously, Albrecht Durer and William Blake. Kraus' pen and ink Revelation series embraces an artistic tradition that dates nearly to the experience of Patmos itself.

Awareness of the Book of Revelation has perhaps never been higher in our society and the purpose of the book less understood. Its symbolic language and fantastic images of supernatural battles has always fascinated believers while the events of "the end of times" have profited more than a few Hollywood producers.

Kraus has taken inspiration from the Book of Revelation, translating Saint John's visions of the apocalypse into reflections upon the constant tension inherent in the beauty of the heavenly creatures of John's visions and the perilous responsibilities that is their charge. The exhibition includes Kraus' interpretation of the seven angelic messengers of Revelation 15 whose heralding trumpets convey the foreboding that is to come to those who have violated the great covenant.

Also exhibited to the public for the first time is Kraus' handmade book, The Second Beginning, illustrating in image and verse the artist's interpretation of the Creation story of the Book of Genesis. The images, similar in style to those of the Revelation series, are presented in a monumental, handcrafted book with unique verse written by the artist for each day of creation. Over the course of the exhibition, museum staff will turn the pages of the book so that the public may see The Second Beginning in its entirety.

Both the Revelation series and The Second Beginning are testimony to the personal and private interests of Kraus. Executed over a thirty year period, neither work was meant to be sold or shared with the public originally. These private works have now been made available to the public, offered as interpretations upon some of the most significant words and images of the western tradition. As Kraus' work shows, our modern age still finds itself drawn to its most enduring questions of origin and ending.


For many in St. Louis, Russell Kraus is best remembered for having the foresight to hire Frank Lloyd Wright as the architect of the home he and his wife commissioned in 1949. Their home was the first Wright home in the St. Louis area, and one of only five in Missouri. Others know his work, if not the artist, when the colors of his stained glass windows wash over them in area churches. He was a commercial illustrator and much of the print advertising of St. Louis' major companies in the 1950's and 1960's was created by Kraus in his Wainwright Building studio.

Born in 1918, the son of German immigrants, Kraus studied art at Washington University. His talent was noticed immediately and among his many honors was an appointment at Carnegie Fellow. Several of his posters created to bolster the efforts of war-time production during the Second World War are now housed in the collections of the Smithsonian Institute.

Concerns for his family kept Kraus in St. Louis throughout his life. His finances were sufficient for his need, but limited. Consequently, inspiration worked closely with resources and some of his best loved work is the jewelry he designed for his wife, Ruth Getz Kraus, made from the ebony of piano keys.

Throughout his life, Russell Kraus has taken inspiration from his faith, family and his many friends. Kraus is 89-years old and resides in St. Louis County.

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Revelation: The Religious Imagination of Russell Kraus is sponsored in part by the Garden View Care Center and KMOX Radio, 1120 AM. The exhibition is supported by the Lawrence Biondi, S.J. Endowment for the Arts.