Childhood and youth

Wilhelm Jaruska was born on July 26, 1916 in the Ottakring district of Vienna and grew up as a foster child in Mogersdorf in southern Burgenland. At the age of nine he was brought back to Vienna by his father. During this time, he is supported primarily by his stepmother, who teaches him to read and write and thus enables him to go to secondary school. Since it is more important to his parents that he works, he begins an apprenticeship as an industrial painter in a tapestry workshop as a teenager.


Studies and wartime

After the workshop was closed and his father died in early 1933, Jaruska, like many other people, was confronted with the difficult economic conditions of the time. He deals intensively with the socially disadvantaged sections of the Viennese population and documents everyday life in his home district of Ottakring. In 1936 he applies to the Vienna School of Applied Arts and, after passing the entrance examination, attends the painting class with Wilhelm Müller-Hofmann for two years. There he meets his classmate and later wife Alice "Lizzi" Essler, who comes from a family of Czech manufacturers. Through a poster competition in Müller-Hofmann's class, Jaruska comes into contact with the Rosenbaum printing house, then one of the largest printing houses in Vienna. In the permanent position that Jaruska receives after a short time, he learns the printing craft. With the outbreak of World War II, the employment relationship is abruptly interrupted and Jaruska is drafted into artillery in the German Wehrmacht. Thanks to his profession as a draftsman, he is mainly classified as a writer, where he creates technical drawings. During this time he is in various sites of war in France, Yugoslavia and Russia and witnesses the cruelties of the war.


Professorship and establishment as a commercial artist

After the end of the war it is again possible for Jaruska to develop artistically. He initially moves into a studio in Gablenzgasse in Ottakring and later, in the early 1950s, a house in Stadlau with his wife and parents-in-law. In 1954 he takes up an apprenticeship at the graphic teaching and research institute for poster design and illustration. A parallel study at the Academy of Fine Arts in the class of Albert Paris Gütersloh, from which he graduates in 1959, later enables him to hold his own professorship. Until his retirement in 1977, he continues to teach and works as a freelance graphic artist. His works consist of commissioned works by the City of Vienna for posters and advertisements, as well as facade designs for social housing projects. He also works as an illustrator for children's books. He designs posters for the Wiener Messe, the Wiener Festwochen and the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. The city of Vienna commissions Jaruska in 1970 with a special project. He takes over the design of the information and presentation booklets on the expansion of the Vienna underground network. At the height of his career, a selection of his artistic work is shown in the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in 1971.


Free creation, travel and family

His professorship and the successfully carried out assignments of the City of Vienna raise his profile and secure him financial independence. With his family, he makes numerous trips through Austria from the 1960s. Holidays are particularly spent in the Waldviertel, where Jaruska prefers to document the town of Litschau. Further trips lead him to France, Holland, Italy and Croatia. Here, too, he tirelessly depicts the country and its people in his preferred mixed media on paper. When Wilhelm Jaruska dies on December 2, 2008, he leaves behind an extensive work that testifies to his unbroken creative power up into the age of 92.

Widder Fine Arts


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