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The 1940s was an important transition period for the Taos art community. A group of modernist artists arrived who would set a new artistic course for a generation. Following World War II, Taos became an important crossroads in contemporary American art, a place where the influences of European and American modernism came together. Artists from New York and San Francisco, the cradles of post-war abstract painting, found in Taos a conducive place to work devoid of the distractions of the big cities. Many of the modernist artists arrived in Taos with little if any knowledge of the earlier artists, as if inexplicably drawn to the Town's inherently creative atmosphere. Many came to study under the G.I. bill.

Joining Andrew Dasburg as mentor to these new artists in 1939 was Thomas Benrimo, another early American modernist. New York artist Louis Ribak arrived in Taos in 1944 with his wife, painter Beatrice Mandelman, and emerged as a leader of the younger generation. Agnes Martin, now an internationally acclaimed artist came to Taos a few years later as a student with the University of New Mexico's summer Field School of Art. In the early 1950s, Clay Spohn, an abstract expressionist, and Edward Corbett, an artist with a growing reputation as a modernist, arrived from San Francisco. Their colleague, Richard Diebenkorn, although not a Taos resident, showed at the Town's premier art gallery, Galeria Escondida, as well as the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he received a Masters Degree in Art in 1951. In the same way that the Taos Art Colony in earlier decades attracted other artists to the area, these new artists were visited by their friends and associates, including such major figures as Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Clyfford Still and Morris Graves.

The influx of dozens of artists by the 1950s had established Taos as one of the centers of modernist artistic activity in the United States. In the middle part of the decade, a number of them began showing together in art galleries and museums and were collectively known as the Taos Moderns. Although they never created a formal group such as the Taos Society of Artists had done, they changed the artistic direction of the community.

Their paintings were either abstract, using subject matter, or non-objective compositions of pure form. The stark New Mexico landscape brightened their palettes just as it had that of earlier artists. Cultural influences continued to be important as well. The timelessness they perceived in Pueblo Indian culture and the deep connection to the land they noted in the everyday life of both Indians and Hispanics influence experimentation and innovation in their own art.

If there was any one guiding philosophy during this period, it was a commitment by artists to seek 'the new' in their visual imagery. Many of them were not content with depicting the surface beauty of the landscape or the figurative portraits done by earlier artists. Instead, they wanted to capture the underlying structure of a subject to reveal its true meaning.

Artist: Ben Wade
Title: Abstraction
Date: c. 1960
Medium: sculpture stone
Ben Wade (1919 - 2007)
Boise, ID

Dates in Taos: 1970-2005

c. 1960
Ben Wade
Artist: Clay Spohn
Title: Brown Landscape Images
Date: 1960s
Medium: Oil painting on board
Dimensions: Overall: 20 3/8 x 26 7/8 in. (51.8 x 68.2 cm) frame: 22 1/2 x 28 7/8 in. (57.2 x 73.3 cm)
Clay Spohn (1898-1977)
1960s
Clay Spohn
Artist: Doel Reed
Title: Cabresto Canyon
Date: 1972
Medium: painting casein
Dimensions: Overall: 20 7/8 x 27 15/16 in. (53 x 71 cm) frame: 24 1/2 x 33 1/4 in. (62.2 x 84.5 cm)
Doel Reed United States (United States, 1894 - 1985)
Remembered as an important member of the Taos art community after 1960, Doel Reed achieved an international reputation as a landscape artist and printmaker, and as a master of aquatint. His paintings and aquatints were earth-toned and geometric in style and featured architectural forms of the New Mexico landscape.

He was born in Logansport, Indiana, and from 1924 until 1959, chaired the art department at Oklahoma State University. Then he moved to Talpa, near Taos, New Mexico where he and his family had been spending many summers and he had done and he did much sketching in Arizona and New Mexico, especially the countryside and pueblos near Talpa. His method of working was to sketch in the field and then complete the paintings in his studio.

He first pursued architecture but enjoying drawing, enrolled at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 1916 to 1917 and 1919 to 1920. He served in World War I and was gassed and temporarily blinded. After months in base hospitals in France, he returned to the Art Academy and became interested in graphics. However, in those days, there were few schools specializing in that subject, so he was largely self taught. In 1952, he was elected to the National Academy of Design.

He wrote a book, Doel Reed Makes an Aquatint, published 1965, and known for oils and caseins, he earned much fame from his aquatints.

An article titled 'Doel Reed Haunted by Nature's Moods', by M.J. Van Deventer, was in Southwest Art, August 1985 (p 58)


Source:

Dean Porter and Teresa Ebie, Taos Artists and Their Patrons
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encylopedia of Artists of the American West

His historic Taos studio has been created as the Doel Reed Center
http://drca.okstate.edu/doel-reed-bio
1972
Doel Reed
Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Canyonlands (canyon series)
Date: 1960's
Medium: acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 47 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. (120.7 x 80 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
1960's
Louis Ribak
Artist: Barbara Latham
Title: Decoration Day
Date: c.1940
Medium: painting tempera
Dimensions: 24 x 29 15/16 in. (61 x 76 cm) Framed: 29 1/4 × 35 1/4 × 1 1/4 in. (74.3 × 89.5 × 3.2 cm)
Barbara Latham United States (United States, 1889 - 1989)
“I had lived under the brilliant western sky all summer, but I had never experienced such brilliance, contrasted with such fragrant desert. … I loved Taos from the moment I stepped off the train.” "I’ve been very happy here." "And I’m still having fun with my art."

Known as an accomplished painter, printmaker, and children’s book illustrator, Barbara Latham had idea of her life’s creative trajectory from an early age. At eight years old Barbara Latham won a scholarship to attend a weekend drawing class, and it sparked the young girl’s innate love of art. Shortly after high school, Latham began her more serious artistic studies at the Norwich Academy and Pratt Institute in New York City, as well as summer workshops with Anderw Dasburg at the Students League Summer School in Woodstock, New York. After a corporate stint on Madison Avenue making greeting cards, Latham relocated to the art colony of Taos, New Mexico.

It was in Taos that Latham would meet her eventual husband and fellow artist, Howard Cook. The two were introduced through Victor Higgins, and enjoyed a nurturing partnership spanning more than fifty years. The two traveled extensively through South America, Mexico, and Europe, largely the result of Cook’s Guggenheim Fellowship awards in 1932, and again in 1934. It was from these new, exotic vistas that the couple gathered unfamiliar subject matter and expanded their techniques. Much of what went into Latham’s first children’s book, “Pedro, Nina, and Perrito,” was cultivated during these travels.

In 1938, Latham and her husband purchased a home in Talpa, New Mexico. It was to become the base for a prolific artistic output, featuring everything from playful community scenes to wildlife, and landscapes in her signature stop-action style. Some of Latham’s most notable works include: “View from Our House in Talpa,” “Decoration Day,” “Tourist Town, Taos,” “Getting Ready for the Rabbit Hunt,” and “Rio Grande in the Spring.”

In 1967 the couple lived seasonally in Roswell, New Mexico, after Cook was awarded with the first artist-in-residence at the newly conceived Roswell Museum. By 1976, Howard Cook’s health was failing to the point where the couple relocated once more to a retirement home in Santa Fe. After her husband’s passing in 1980, Latham continued to travel and paint until her own passing in 1989.

https://sites.google.com/site/parsonsartists/home/barbara-latham
c.1940
Barbara Latham
Artist: Clay Spohn
Title: Elements of Spring: The Rains
Date: 1952
Medium: Oil painting
Dimensions: Overall: 27 15/16 x 32 5/16 in. (71 x 82 cm)
Clay Spohn (1898-1977)
1952
Clay Spohn
Artist: B.J.O. Nordfeldt
Title: Grasses
Date: 1950
Medium: oil on linen
Dimensions: Overall: 48 x 64 1/2 in. (121.9 x 163.8 cm) Framed: 56 5/8 x 42 3/4 in. (143.8 x 108.6 cm)
B.J.O. Nordfeldt (1878-1955)
1950
B.J.O. Nordfeldt