Artis: Ramon Shiva (1893 – 1963)


Farhat Art Museum Collection

Ramon Shiva was active/lived in New Mexico, Illinois / Spain.

Ramon Shiva is known for industrial, urban view painting.With a much traveled youth, including to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Panama, Ramon Shiva arrived in Chicago by 1913, when he saw the New York Armory Show Exhibition at the Chicago Art Institute. He later credited this exhibition as redirecting him from commercial art to easel painting of modernist, abstract styles that incorporated richly colored geometric shapes.

He also determined that he needed to be able to support himself financially to afford his love of painting. He began working in a lithography shop where, because of ink being scarce doing World War I, he used his training as a chemist to develop colors that could be used for printing Liberty Bond posters. His “success in developing the brilliant and long-lasting inks necessary for this project spurred experimentation that led to the development of Shiva Artist Oil Colors.” (150) During the 1940s through the 1950s, “Shiva became the leading oil paint manufacture in the United States, and also led the world in bringing back casein, . . .” (wetpaint)

Because of their high quality, these colors were so much in demand that he set up a factory on Goethe Street in Chicago and worked there for many years. He lived with his family in an apartment on the second floor of the building, and worked with his , Jack Richeson, who had been his ‘errand boy’, on the paint marketing and chemical processess, which included the additive of Casein. Working with them to evaluate the paint were illustrators Haddon Sunblom, James Sessions and Vaughn Milbourne. The downside for Shiva was that this business demanded much of his time and energy, which detracted from his painting that focused on an increasingly industrialized Chicago—changes that he was part of affecting. Eventually Jack Richeson became owner of the company, named Jack Richeson and Company.

Susan Weininger, “Ramon Shiva”, Chicago Modern, Pursuit of the New…/White_Sale_04/Shiva_

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