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Photography, Prints and Drawings Learn More

Small works on paper often do well in an intimate setting such as the Harwood's gallery for Prints, Drawings and Photographs where the Museum presents changing exhibitions from the permanent collection as well as exhibitions of work on loan.

Drawing and printmaking have had a long and distinguished history in the Taos community. The Museum collection includes important examples by some of the earlier artists including Howard Cook, Joseph Imhof, who brought the first lithography press to Taos, Gene Kloss, Nicolai Fechin, and Walter Ufer.

The post World War II period of the Taos Moderns is represented by the works of Tom Benrimo, Andrew Dasburg, Earl Stroh, and Louis Ribak, while drawings and prints by Larry Calcagno, R.C. Ellis, Ken Price, Joe Waldrum, Vija Celmins, Wes Mills, and Bill Gersh document the work of more recent artists.

Artist: Kenneth Adams
Title: New Mexico Village Under Snow
Date: 1950
Medium: print reproductions
Dimensions: Overall: 16 1/8 x 11 13/16 in. (41 x 30 cm) mat: 16 1/8 x 20 in. (41 x 50.8 cm)
Kenneth Adams United States (1897-1966)

Kenneth Adams
Artist: Thomas Benrimo
Title: Night
Date: n.d.
Medium: Charcoal and pastel on paper
Dimensions: Overall: 15 3/4 x 19 11/16 in. (40 x 50 cm) framed: 23 1/2" x 27"
Thomas Benrimo United States (1887-1958)
THOMAS BENRIMO (1887-1958), moved to Taos in 1939.

The flowing quality of design which Tom Benrimo subtly employs suggests a penetrating musical quality.

—Allen S. Weller, 1952

In an art community known for its reclusive artists, Thomas Benrimo stood out by his absence from the art scene in his early Taos years. He lived in Taos for over twelve years before sharing his work with the public for the first time in a group exhibition at the Hotel La Fonda in 1951.

Benrimo moved to Taos in 1939 on the strength of winning the Art Director Medal for Color Illustration award, an honor that included a $5,000 prize. He left New York’s Pratt Institute, where he had taught such courses as “Applied Surrealism” for commercial artists. A painter whose roots went back to the early days of American modernism, he now had the means to make the transition back into fine art, which he had abandoned in order to support his tubercular mother and brother.

His first artistic project in Taos, done in partnership with his wife, Dorothy Benrimo, a fine jeweler, was converting an old adobe ruin into a stately home. In his early Taos paintings, he attempted to regain the position that he had staked out more than 20 years earlier in New York. Little of his work from that period remains, but it is clear that the 1913 Armory Show deeply impressed him; he painted abstractions by 1918, if not before.

His Taos work included subject matter suggested by ancient Roman and Etruscan art and Greek vase painting, and also influenced by cubism. His facility for painting detail exceeded that of most artists, and his studies of modernist painting during his teaching career made him one of the best informed artists in the country. His teaching notes reveal a brilliant mind which welded together the many currents of modernism to make them understandable to his students. Benrimo's reputation was such that László Moholy-Nagy, an artist and founder of the New Bauhaus art school in Chicago, invited him to become the school’s director in the 1940s. But, by that time Benrimo had decided to devote the remainder of his life to painting.

During the war years, he concentrated on finely crafted surrealistic paintings. In the 1950s, Benrimo combined surrealism and strong structural form with lyrically tragic and passionate themes, as seen in late work such as White Moon #2 (ca. 1954).
Benrimo's work achieved national exposure when one of his paintings was included in the 1951 “Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture” exhibition at the University of Illinois. Asked to comment on his work for the catalog, he said (quoting author Charles Norman): “Feeling and form are all; and that man is most an artist who fuses those two into an indivisible one.”

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992)
Thomas Benrimo
Artist: Robert C. Ellis
Title: Noche Larga
Date: 1965
Medium: Woodcut
Dimensions: Overall: 13 3/8 x 9 1/16 in. (34 x 23 cm)
Robert C. Ellis United States (1923-1979)
Born in Jackson, Texas, R.C. Ellis first began studying art through The University of New Mexico, Taos Summer Field School in 1942, where he met Andrew Dasburg whom he admired greatly. Ellis would have moved to Taos earlier if it had not been for WWII, and his service through the Coast Guard. After the war he returned to studying art at the New School of Social Research in New York in 1949, where he studied Abraham Rattner and Adja Yunkers (later one of the Albuquerque moderns). He would return to New Mexico the following year to study at the University of New Mexico and eventually obtaining his BFA in 1950. Most importantly to Ellis, between 1947 and 1953, he lived intermittently with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Sierra Madre whose art he greatly admired. His ties to Mexico, which were as strong as those he felt for the Southwest, became even stronger with his 1957 marriage to Rosamaria Ramirez de Alba, a Mexican citizen. He was the only artist among the Taos Moderns to pursue his career in two countries showing his work on both sides of the border. He returned to Taos in 1961 as a resident of the Wurlitzer Foundation and again briefly in 1964, before finally settling in Taos in 1965.
His paintings from the 1940’s onward moved through Cubist and Abstract Expressionist influenced periods. In the 1950’s his interest in the nature of luminosity led him to try for a kind of stained glass effect. In later works he mosved to a more minimalist – type artwork in both his painting and print making.

His first solo exhibition was at Gump’s Gallery in San Francisco California in 1942 and from there is work was exhibited in Washington D.C., Tucson Arizona, Santa Fe NM, Albuquerque NM, Linsborg KS, Amarillo TX, The Panhandle Museum in Carson County TX, The Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permain Basin, Odessa TX, and at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos. He exhibited internationally in several galleried in Mexico, as well as at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno in Mexico City in 1964.

Ellis applied what he saw in the landscape, interpreting the lessons garnedred from his observations to create his compositions. Particularly by the time of his late work, he captured in paint, ink and other mediums the paradox of the desert, a surface that at first appears simple, but only because it’s true complexity is so well integrated into a flow of light and form. R.C. Ellis died in Albuquerque New Mexico in 1979.

Artist Biography.2015.203 Fine Art
Robert C. Ellis
Artist: Edward S. Curtis
Title: North Pueblo at Taos
Date: 1925
Medium: photogravure
Dimensions: 11 3/8" H x 15 1/2 " W
Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)
Dates in Taos: 1925
Edward S. Curtis
Artist: Louis Ribak
Title: Novelist Joseph Foster
Date: 1966
Medium: Ink on paper
Dimensions: Overall: 20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm)
Louis Ribak (1903-1979)
LOUIS RIBAK (1903-1979), moved to Taos in 1944.

In his first show in eight years [Louis Ribak] reports from Mexico and the Southwest with added strength and color. There is new freedom with emphasis on forms as such rather than on objects ...

—New York Times, May 1954

Beginning with work that was included in the 1934 Venice Biennale and continuing with his social realist painting of the 1930s, Louis Ribak captured vibrant images of urban life with considerable power. He was making an important career when, in 1944, he abandoned New York for Taos with his wife, Beatrice Mandelman. Various reasons have been suggested for the move: Ribak’s health; John Sloan's suggestion that the couple move to New Mexico; and their general disenchantment with New York. All these were probably contributing factors, but, since there was a good deal of wanderlust in Ribak, perhaps he just needed a change. As curator Harry Rand observed in the catalog of a 1984 exhibition of Ribak’s late paintings,

Something entirely unsuspected gripped Ribak in the Southwest and he was never able to disenthrall himself from the heady solemnity of the landscape, its beauty or emotive potential.

Ribak's approach shifted from social realism to full abstraction during his Taos years. Much of his early Taos work consists of semi-abstract landscapes, artistically descended from the paintings of American artist Albert P. Ryder. In Ryders’ work there is a living aspect to the environment in which humankind is not isolated, but is instead an intimate part. Ribak seems to have brought this concept with him from New York but, under the powerful influence of contact with New Mexico's pueblos, it was dramatically reinforced, expanded, and adapted to the changed circumstances of his life. He had to change to meet the demands of the new environment. Mandelman later said, “We had to start all over again. We spent the first couple of years painting the landscape” as a means of coming to understand the West.

Highly respected by his peers, Ribak was looked up to by the Taos Moderns as “an elder compadre,” a role model. In 1947, he opened the Taos Valley Art School for returning veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to pay tuition and living expenses. In addition to attracting beginners, mature artists who needed no training used the stipend to enable them to continue painting and drawing. Ribak, like Andrew Dasburg, offered no ideology to his students: “I’m not truly anything. I’m against everything. Damned abstract[ionist]s, realists, illustrators …” He condemned taking any single approach—he believed this would lead to academicism, an art of deadness, whether abstract or representational.

Ribak was well-acquainted with the work of the abstract expressionists and knew artists of the New York School. In the mid-1950s, Mandelman and Ribak sojourned in New York, then returned to Taos. From that time, Ribak developed the lyrical abstract expressionism that would occupy much of his subsequent career. Movement No. 1 and Movement No. 2 are examples. The flowing calligraphy evident in much of his work developed from decades of landscape drawings. His abstract paintings seem not to have come from cubism so much as out of his own preoccupation with working directly from nature.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992).
Louis Ribak
Artist: Douglas Johnson
Title: Offering to My Dead
Date: 1980
Medium: Lithograph
Dimensions: sheet: 30 x 22 1/2 in. (76.2 x 57.1 cm) frame: 33 3/4 x 26 1/8 in. (85.7 x 66.3 cm)
Douglas Johnson United States (b. 1946)
Douglas Johnson's intimate gouache paintings not only reflect the craft of Native American miniaturists but also represent the life and imagery of Northern New Mexico. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Johnson is essentially self-taught. His interest in the Southwest began in college when he became a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), a government program designed to improve living conditions for the poor in our Country. He was assigned to the Navajo Indian Reservation and quickly fell in love with its rich culture. Although he had been painting and drawing most of his life, it was this experience that inspired him to focus his talents, ultimately resulting in his permanent relocation to New Mexico.

Johnson admits that many of his paintings have their roots in Navajo art. He has, however, been very careful to remain faithful to and nurture the integrity of Native American culture. In fact, he believes that much of his ability comes from his, "first-hand experience living with the Indians and...know[ing] a lot of details of their lives."

Johnson was especially influenced by the work of Harrison Begay of the Dorothy Dunn School. Johnson states, "I started copying his prints. It's why I paint in the flat style, so geometric and linear." Indeed, his small, highly detailed paintings glow with jewel-like colors and hard-edged lines.

In addition to Native American culture, nature has proven to be a significant influence. Johnson learned by, "examining light and shadow, weather, color, flowers, the birds... it's all out there." In fact, as part of an effort to isolate himself and to be closer to Chaco Canyon, the site of many Anasazi ruins, he built a rock house on the side of a cliff near Coyote, New Mexico. The home has no plumbing or electricity. It is Johnson's desire to live as closely to his subject as he possibly can. Much of his own life and environment can be found in his paintings, a testament to his sincerity and to his subject matter.

Johnson has been exhibiting his paintings extensively for years. However, he attributes his success to the experience of painting. "As I paint things over and over, the flowers, the birds, the people, I hope they get deeper and more complex as I see them better. When you paint something, you learn about it, and the more you paint, the more you look, the more you learn."
Douglas Johnson
Artist: Howard Cook
Title: Our Studio - Harwood
Date: 1927-1928
Medium: Mixed media print, drybrush on paper
Dimensions: Overall: 8 15/16 x 12 9/16 in. (22.7 x 31.9 cm) frame: 14 1/4 x 18 1/4 in. (36.2 x 46.4 cm)
Howard Cook United States (1901 - 1980)
Howard Cook
Artist: Doel Reed
Title: Pastorale
Date: 1955
Medium: print aquatint
Dimensions: Overall: 22 1/4 x 15 15/16 in. (56.5 x 40.5 cm)
Doel Reed 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)


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
Doel Reed
Artist: David Michael Kennedy
Title: Phil Crazybull, Corrales, New Mexico
Date: 2003
Medium: Toned silver gelatin print photo
Dimensions: Overall: 17 1/2 in. x 22 3/4 in.
David Michael Kennedy
David Michael Kennedy
Artist: Andrew Dasburg
Title: Picuris
Date: 1948
Medium: Ink
Dimensions: Overall: 16 15/16 x 17 11/16 in. (43 x 45 cm) Framed: 24 11/16 x 29 3/16 in. (62.7 x 74.1 cm)
Andrew Dasburg (1887-1979)
ANDREW DASBURG (1887-1979), first visited Taos in 1918.

I really taught people to see: a sort of evangelist for modernism, because of my experience of seeing Matisse paint for most of an hour.

—Andrew Dasburg, 1975

Not only did Andrew Dasburg meet Henri Matisse, but he also discovered the work of Paul Cézanne in Paris (1909-1911) and became one of the first American artists to grasp the possibilities of modernism. Dasburg’s work was included in the famous 1913 Armory Show, and in the 1916 “Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters.” No other artist moved to Taos having already achieved a significant presence in the American art world.

During the 1920s, when Dasburg divided his time between New York and New Mexico, he painted landscapes and still lifes. He moved permanently to Taos in the 1930s but soon contracted Addison's disease, which left him too weak to produce much artwork. By 1947, he recovered sufficiently to resume his career and join the Taos Moderns. As he had done throughout his long career, Dasburg gave active encouragement to advanced art students such as Earl Stroh. He was greatly admired and respected by the Taos Moderns who, if they did not know his place in American art history before coming to Taos, soon learned of it. But Dasburg was also open to inspiration. According to Stroh, Edward Corbett’s startling white abstractions influenced both Dasburg and Thomas Benrimo to create their own essays in white.

Dasburg's gradual return to painting and drawing led to the period of his finest work, from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Dasburg studied the Taos Valley until he could convey its underlying geometry with an intimate precision. In his drawing, he looked beyond the smooth, feminine forms to reveal the skeleton beneath with supreme economy of line. He painted the Taos Valley not as a mass of geometric blocks but as a vital, living thing. In the land’s visual rhythm he found harmony coming out of contrasts, an artistic perception of nature and time and also an artistic attitude.

In an address to University of New Mexico art students in 1953, Dasburg spoke of how an artist should approach the process of creation:

What is a work of art if not elevation of spirit? Something that in its best instances has the power to instill with a heightened awareness of life—both its joy and enigma. Be the theme lyrical or tragic, a great work of art is always more profound and at the same time simpler than the verbiage with which we obscure in trying to describe it. Someone is always introducing the word “problem” to replace joy, a sense of play, and mystery which is the fertile soil of art. The only problem that confronts the artist beyond his daily bread is to rid his mind of cobwebs of confused thought and to throw away the crutches of theory. Work is the mother of craft which cannot be earned as an end itself but only as servant to a guiding vision. A purpose to be achieved.

Late in life, Dasburg was honored with museum shows in Dallas, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and New York. When he died in 1979, he was the last surviving artist of the Armory Show, and the last direct link to the earliest days of American modernism.

Edited excerpt from David L. Witt, Taos Moderns: Art of the New (1992)
Andrew Dasburg
Artist: Ginger Mongiello
Title: Points of Entry
Date: 1984
Medium: Pastel and pencil
Dimensions: Overall: 22 1/16 x 22 1/16 in. (56 x 56 cm)
Ginger Mongiello (b. 1948)
Ginger Mongiello