Published: December 23, 2016
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — See the dramatic, groundbreaking artworks that gave rise to a major school of American painting in “The Taos Society of Artists,” a major exhibition on view January 10–April 30 at the Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. This exhibition, sponsored by Scottsdale Art Auction, features masterpieces by the 19 members and associate members of the Taos Society of Artists, founded in 1915. Their vivid images of native people and dramatic landscapes shaped popular cultures’ imagination of the American Southwest and influenced generations of artists, photographers and writers.
Co-curated by guest curator Peter Hassrick and the museum’s chief curator Tricia Loscher, “The Taos Society of Artists” highlights the important artwork and careers of the members and associate members of the Taos Society. It features a selection of these iconic artists’ finest works of art, on loan from institutions across the country, as well as private collections.
During its heyday, Taos was one of the nation’s most respected art colonies. By 1915, a group calling itself the Taos Society of Artists was founded by six artists who had been living, at least part-time, in Taos for some years. The founding members were Oscar E. Berninghaus (1874–1952), Ernest L. Blumenschein (1874–1960), Eanger Irving Couse (1866–1936), William Herbert “Buck” Dunton (1878–1936), Bert Greer Phillips (1868–1956) and Joseph Henry Sharp (1859–1953). This group grew to include 12 members and seven associate members.
The other members included: Kenneth Adams (1897–1966), Catharine Carter Critcher (1868–1964), Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956), Victor Higgins (1884–1949), Julius Rolshoven (1858–1930) and Walter Ufer (1876–1936).
Associate members were: Gustave Baumann (1881–1971), Randall Davy (1887–1964), Albert Groll (1866–1952), Robert Henri (1865–1929), Bror Julius Olsson (B.J.O.) Nordfeldt (1878–1955), Birger Sandzén (1871–1954) and John Sloan (1871–1951).
The group shared a love of the regional location, local color and local people, especially the Hispanic and Pueblo Indian communities. The artists felt honored to live and work in such a wonderland as New Mexico.
Most of the Taos artists had been trained in Paris and Munich, and employed European aesthetic conventions throughout their careers. As the society expanded its membership, the artists collaborated, critiqued and nurtured one another. The society would prepare and send its members’ work to exhibitions throughout the country. In 1927 the society formally disbanded.
In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a Taos Society of Artists Symposium, featuring presentations by internationally recognized scholars of the Taos Society of Artists. It will be held on Thursday and Friday, April 6 and 7, from 1 to 5 pm at the museum.
Speakers include Barbara Brandenburg Brenner, granddaughter of Oscar E. Berninghaus and lifetime supporter of the Taos arts community; Virginia Couse Leavitt, granddaughter of E. Irving Couse and founder of The Couse Foundation; Michael Grauer, associate director of curatorial affairs/curator of art and Western heritage at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, and art history instructor at West Texas A&M University; Peter Hassrick, co-curator of “The Taos Society of Artists” exhibition, and director emeritus of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West; Tricia Loscher, Ph.D., co-curator of “The Taos Society of Artists” exhibition and chief curator of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West; and Susan Sessions Rugh, Ph.D., dean of undergraduate education and history professor at Brigham Young University.
The symposium, which is sponsored by Marcia and Hugh Ruddock, is included in museum admission ($13 for adults) and is free to museum members. Between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm on both days, the museum will offer an onsite, boxed lunch to guests for $12, which must be reserved at the time of the symposium reservation.
Although the symposium is included with admission, space is limited and those interested are asked to make a reservation by Friday, March 31; call 480-686-9539, extension 200, to reserve a place.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is at 3830 North Marshall Way in the arts district, one block west of Scottsdale Road and one block south of Main Street (south of Indian School Road). For additional information, 480-686-9539 or www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org.
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