Adolfo Lazaruz/ATO....The enigma of ATO

The strokes, the melomania, a life dedicated to being self-taught and a recognition far from his land surrounds the figure of Adolfo Lazarus better known as ATO.

Cover for Bajo un claro de Luna (undated) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile

The enigma

Lazarus, who signed as ATO, was an illustrator belonging to the Jewish community whose creations were essential for the artistic development of Chile in the 20th century. A personality that has sown a legacy that reverberates to this day.

Adolfo Lazarus's Birth Certificate (July 14th, 1898) (1898-07-14)Archivo Judío de Chile

The first steps

Adolfo Lazarus was born on July 10, 1898 in the city of Hamburg, Germany, into a secularized Jewish family made up of his father Adolph, his mother Berthe Aguste Lempker and his brother Fredy. The father was dedicated to the trade of cigars and music

Adolfo Lazarus's embarkation to Chile (November 15th, 1902) (1902-11-15)Archivo Judío de Chile

Arrival in Chile

Shortly after Adolfo was born, his father died. The family decides that the best option is to emigrate to Chile with her sister-in-law and family, Rosa Lazarus de Wise. This coincided with the massive arrival of German merchants and entrepreneurs in the late 1890s in Valparaíso.

Adolfo Lazarus's class in 1913 (1913)Archivo Judío de Chile

Life in Chile

Thanks to her solid education Berthe managed to work as a governess and as a result of her efforts she managed to enroll Adolfo in the National Institute. For her, the most important thing was to give her children a good education.

Cover for Cascabelito (unrated) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile

First steps

Once he graduated and driven by his latent taste for music, Lazarus got a job at the Casa Amarilla de Santiago, a well-known music store since 1920, which had its own lithographic printing press. It is here, where his artistic journey begins to consolidate.

Cover for Adoración: tango (1930) (1930) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile


Little by little, Lazarus was consolidating himself in the environment of illustration, embodying in his creations concepts typical of Art Deco, an avant-garde style that emerged in Europe linked to modernism that challenged the patterns imposed by previous artistic currents.

Cover for Pim Pom (1923) (1923) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile

Casa Amarilla

There he began to illustrate scores of musical pieces. Thanks to the publishing boom that was experienced at that time in the country, it turned out to be a successful marketing: owning these objects played an important role by being reflected as a consumer good.

Cover for Silbando me enamoré: fox trot (1945) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile


Over the years, the illustrator took charge of the headquarters in Valparaíso to continue reproducing this work independently and complementing his work with illustrations for book covers and other music labels (Wagner).

Notebook D: Drawings (undated) by Adolfo LazarusArchivo Judío de Chile

The mystery of the artist

The figure of the illustrator began to captivate the attention of some national researchers not only because of the refinement and avant-garde nature of his work, but also because of its enigmatic essence. Although he was never recognized as an artist, his talent is undeniable.

Cover for Por qué no has venido..? (1928) (1928) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile

Modernization of the industry

The modernization of the Chilean graphics of ATO also promoted that the spheres of this item and the design were strengthened and obtained adequate recognition within this golden age for the edition that was created in 1928 by the School of Applied Arts of University of Chile.

Notebook D: Drawings (undated) by Adolfo LazarusArchivo Judío de Chile

Notebook C: Lucy Donoso (1921) (1921) by Adolfo LazarusArchivo Judío de Chile

Combination of his passions

Without a doubt, the commercial and artistic skills of Lazarus alias ATO managed to be a revolution within the music and design market: a sales strategy combined with the delightful nature that Art usually has.

Cover for Bajo un claro de Luna (undated) by Adolfo Lazarus (ATO)Archivo Judío de Chile

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