Künstler studied art at Brooklyn College, U.C.L.A. and Pratt Institute. He began his career in the 1950s as a freelance artist, illustrating paperback book covers and men’s adventure magazines. Later, he took on assignments for major film studios, creating posters for movies such as The Poseidon Adventure and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Long before his celebrated depictions of Grant and Lincoln, Künstler had already tackled an American icon: Alfred E. Neuman, on covers of Mad Magazine, which he painted under the alias “Mutz”.
Künstler’s artwork features dramatic interpretations of American historical events, often, the American Civil War. Künstler’s paintings are painted using oil paints on canvas. His original paintings can be found at the Hammer Galleries in New York City.