Copy of About

Dudley Huppler was born August 6, 1917 in rural Muscoda, Wisconsin. Gifted with intelligence and ambition beyond what a small town could contain, he discovered a life-long love of literature in high school. Dudley entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison to pursue studies in English and art history, achieving both BA and MA degrees in 1939. His search for a more interesting and creative social life led him to a group of Midwestern artists with whom he found the friendship, stimulation, and encouragement to develop the latent artistic talent that would shape the rest of his life.

While working towards his PhD and teaching in the English Department at UW, Dudley began to draw and paint. His earliest signed drawings are dated September 1943. Over the next few years, he began to exhibit work and win awards while continuing to teach English, first at the University of Minnesota and then at Grinnell College in Iowa. More exhibitions in the Midwest followed in the post-war years, some held jointly with friends and some solo. He first visited New York City in 1950 and become involved in the art world there—including exhibitions, features in Vogue and Flair magazines, and decorating department store windows. The relationships he formed in New York saw him returning to the city over the next decade. 

Several sojourns in Italy and other parts of Europe (most notably in 1951, 1953 & 1958) proved pivotal to his body of artwork, and a Yaddo Residency grant in 1955 brought him in contact with more influential artists. He took pride in being self-taught as an artist, yet the art lessons given by friends became some of his most prized moments.

Despite the notoriety he gained, over time Dudley appears to have gradually fallen through the cracks of an art world he seemed to have filled. By the 1960s, he earned his living as an English professor, moving west to be closer to his sister and family and teach English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He began teaching full time at University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh in 1966, traveling back and forth by Greyhound bus to spend summers in Boulder.

A child of the great depression, Dudley was incredibly frugal. Every morning in Boulder, he would ride his bike downtown in search of free day-old doughnuts and coffee from banks. Extra doughnuts were taken home and broken down into crumbs to be repurposed into a cake. Dudley would wear down colored pencils to small stubs barely big enough to hold, and many of his drawings were done on the back of old advertisements from local companies that he would cut down to size. The walls of his Boulder home were covered with antiques and artwork from his friends. A shoe painting he received from his friend Andy Warhol leaned against a shelf above his tub, and the wooden carved eagle he drew for an ad in the April 1950 issue of Vogue hung on an upstairs wall.

Although a talented writer with two published books to his name, Dudley’s true passion remained his art throughout his life. He continued to draw daily, and his work was still regularly exhibited in his later years (largely in the Midwest). Dudley Hupper retired from teaching in 1985 and lived in his small Victorian home in Boulder until his death in 1988.  

All of the artwork featured here is taken from a collection of Huppler’s lifework.


To learn more you may purchase the book titled, Dudley Huppler Drawings by Robert Cozzolino.