Born in Yugoslavia in 1912, Gustav Likan became known in Europe for his portraits of royalty and heads of state. He studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, where he received Master Student status, meaning he was given his own private studio and model.
He spent his summers in Holland, Italy, France where he visited museums and sketched and painted. He then immigrated to South America and then to the United States, arriving in Chicago in 1957. He was appointed to the staff of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts as an instructor, where he taught until 1967.
For the remainder of his life, Professor Likan resided in Texas. He taught at the Laguna Gloria Museum in Austin and reportedly was a popular instructor. He was an outspoken critic of gimmickry in art. “Intellectual conjecture” as he put it. He believed rather in the unifying nature of art: “The function of art is the creation of beauty. The artist has the power to create in others his pleasurable excitement, thereby sharing with them esthetic experiences.”