Rudy Rotter, 1913-2001

Rudy passed away November 4, 2001, at the age of 88. He was born April 23, 1913, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received degrees from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and Marquette University (Milwaukee), served in the Army Dental Corps during World War II, and operated a thriving dental practice in Manitowoc until retiring at the age of 74.

It wasn't until age 43 that he began making and exhibiting his art. From his earliest experiments with plaster in the mid-1950's to his more recent drawings, made just months before his death, Rudy produced an estimated 17,000 works of art. Thousands of pieces were housed in his now closed Museum of Sculpture in downtown Manitowoc.

Rudy's work can now be seen at various galleries, in addition to public institutions in Wisconsin and beyond. 

The joy expressed when describing his creative process and the imaginative energy of his artworks have been an inspiration to all who met him.

QuickTime Movies of Rudy Rotter
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Rudy's thoughts on the act of creating


Rudy in his workshop
Rudy and his spray-painted creatures
Rudy and his use of patterns and molds
Rudy presenting trophy material sculptures
Rudy showing his use of multiples


Public Collections
American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland)
Haggerty Museum of Art (Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, Wisconsin)

Lawton Art Gallery (University of Wisconsin - Green Bay)
Rahr-West Art Museum (Manitowoc, Wisconsin)


"Rudy Rotter is the most prolific artist in Wisconsin history, having created over a 45 year period an estimated 16,000 works of art, mostly sculpture, but also paintings, drawings, and assemblage. His artistic output is staggering by any account considering that he has no formal art training, just hard sustained work over many decades. At the same time that he was creating art, he also raised a family and operated a successful dental practice. Rudy is a self-taught artist, but does not fit the stereotype of impoverished visionary or social misfit. He is organized, disciplined and compulsive about his art, working every day in an organized manner, morning and afternoons; rarely does he take a day off. His commitment is as commendable as his artistic output. As Rudy puts it, "I feel driven to create; I just love the creative process. The product is not as important as the action."

Anton Rajer, Art Conservator and Author
Rudy Rotter's Spirit-Driven Art

"His creativity is driven by a passion to convey a feeling about humanity. In the sanctity of his Buffalo Street studio, it doesn't matter who or what is outside the door. Inside, his mind and imagination take him to places most ordinary mortals will only begin to know by looking at his work."

J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Photographers & Rudy's Neighbors
Rudy Rotter's Spirit-Driven Art

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Last Updated: May 25, 2016