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GUNTHER GERZSO (1915-2000)

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Gunter Gerzso was born on June 17, 1915 in Mexico City following his parent's exodus from Europe in the late 1800s. In 1927, Gerzso was sent to Switzerland to live with his uncle, an art collector, dealer and art historian. Gerzso's stay in Switzerland ended when his uncle was forced to sell his estate. The young Gunther returned to Mexico to complete his schooling.

In 1934 Gerzso was introduced to Fernando Wagner, an actor, producer, and director who worked on productions by authors such as Moliere and Lope de Vega. During the same year, Gerzso became acquainted with Arch Lauterer, a former set designer for the Cleveland Play House. Lauterer recognized Gunther's budding talent and recommended that he move to Cleveland and study at the Play House.

Gerzso took the advice of Lauterer and in 1935 moved to Cleveland and began working as the Play House's set and costume designer. While there, Gerzso completed designs for more than 50 plays and it was there that Gerzso met both Thomas Ireland and Gene Rilla Cady. Gene was an actress and appeared in many Play House productions. She became Gunther's muse, his support and his lifelong partner. Thomas Ireland was an actor and later the Director of the Cleveland Play House. Thomas greatly admired Gunther's talent and encouraged him to continue and explore his artistic vision. Thomas Ireland saved more than 400 works by Gerzso done between 1935 and 1941. These works comprise The Ireland Collection.

Gerzso left Cleveland in 1941 and returned to Mexico. Though it was Gerzso's intent to work on his painting full-time, he was not yet successful enough to make a living without continuing to work in the theatre. Over the next 20 years Gerzso designed sets for more than 250 Mexican, French and American productions.

In 1962 Gerzso retired from the film industry and finally devoted himself full-time to painting. The artist lived and worked in Mexico City until his death on April 20, 2000.