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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.

TitleDateSorted AscendingArtistClassificationDimensions
Untitled-bultoc. 1940Patrociño Barela
Patrociño Barela United States (1902 - 1964)
Patrociño Barela worked most of his life as a wood carver in Taos, New Mexico. As a santero (an artist who creates sacred images), Barela is recognized by New Mexico's living artists as a major source of inspiration. His carvings are not only expressive of the rich Hispano heritage within which he created, but artistically his works display parallels to Romanesque art, Modern art, as well as to the primitive art of other world cultures. http://www.laplaza.org/art/barela/
sculpture Overall: 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)
Bulto- Hope or the Four stages of Manc.1940Patrociño Barela
Patrociño Barela United States (1902 - 1964)
Patrociño Barela worked most of his life as a wood carver in Taos, New Mexico. As a santero (an artist who creates sacred images), Barela is recognized by New Mexico's living artists as a major source of inspiration. His carvings are not only expressive of the rich Hispano heritage within which he created, but artistically his works display parallels to Romanesque art, Modern art, as well as to the primitive art of other world cultures. http://www.laplaza.org/art/barela/
sculpture Overall: 16 1/8 x 7 1/16 in. (41 x 18 cm)
Bultoc.1940Patrociño Barela
Patrociño Barela United States (1902 - 1964)
Patrociño Barela worked most of his life as a wood carver in Taos, New Mexico. As a santero (an artist who creates sacred images), Barela is recognized by New Mexico's living artists as a major source of inspiration. His carvings are not only expressive of the rich Hispano heritage within which he created, but artistically his works display parallels to Romanesque art, Modern art, as well as to the primitive art of other world cultures. http://www.laplaza.org/art/barela/
sculpture Overall: 27 3/16 x 17 11/16 in. (69 x 45 cm)
Death Cartc. 1931-35Patrociño Barela
Patrociño Barela United States (1902 - 1964)
Patrociño Barela worked most of his life as a wood carver in Taos, New Mexico. As a santero (an artist who creates sacred images), Barela is recognized by New Mexico's living artists as a major source of inspiration. His carvings are not only expressive of the rich Hispano heritage within which he created, but artistically his works display parallels to Romanesque art, Modern art, as well as to the primitive art of other world cultures. http://www.laplaza.org/art/barela/
sculpture 40 9/16 × 32 5/16 × 44 in. (103 × 82 × 111.8 cm)
Harwood House1918Gustave Baumann
Gustave Baumann German (1881-1971)
Gustave Baumann was born in Magdeburg, Germany, in 1881. Ten years later, along with his family, Baumann relocated to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago. Displaying a natural aptitude for the arts, he worked as a commercial engraver while putting himself through night school at the Art Institute of Chicago - before returning to Germany in 1904 to study wood block printing at the Kunstgewerbeschule ("School of Arts and Crafts") in Munich. Upon his return to the United States, Baumann received international acclaim when one of his color woodcuts won the gold medal at the Pan-Pacific International Exhibition (1915) in San Francisco. Three years later, in 1918, Baumann settled in Santa Fe, quickly emerging as a leading artistic figure of the American Southwest. He is generally credited with the revival of color wood block printing in the 20th century, and was hand-picked as Area Coordinator for the Works Progress Administration's Public Works of Art Project in the 1930's. http://www.gustavebaumann.net/Gustave_Baumann_Biography_Page.htm
drawing Overall: 10 5/8 x 9 13/16 in. (27 x 25 cm)
Mannequin1956Thomas Benrimo
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)
painting Framed: 42 5/8 × 42 1/4 × 1 1/4 in. (108.3 × 107.3 × 3.2 cm) image: 35 3/4 × 35 3/4 in. (90.8 × 90.8 cm)
Untitledn.d.Emil Bisttram
Emil Bisttram Hungary (1895-1976)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Bisttram
drawing Overall: 12 3/4 x 15 1/2 in. (32.4 x 39.4 cm) Framed: 20 1/4 x 22 1/4 in. (51.4 x 56.5 cm)
Christmas Eve at Taos Pueblo1961Dorothy Eugenie Brett
Dorothy Eugenie Brett Great Britain (1883 - 1977)
Dorothy Eugénie Brett was a British painter, remembered as much for her social life as for her art. Born into an aristocratic British family, she lived a sheltered early life. During her student years at the Slade School of Art, she associated with the Bloomsbury group. Among the people she met was novelist D. H. Lawrence, and it was at his invitation that she moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1924. She remained there for the rest of her life, becoming an American citizen in 1938. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Brett

Her work can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., in the Millicent Rogers Museum and the Harwood Museum of Art, both in Taos, at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico and in many private collections. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Brett

painting Framed: 49 3/4 × 41 1/2 × 3 in. (126.4 × 105.4 × 7.6 cm)
Three Indian Women (Three Witches)1949Dorothy Eugenie Brett
Dorothy Eugenie Brett Great Britain (1883 - 1977)
Dorothy Eugénie Brett was a British painter, remembered as much for her social life as for her art. Born into an aristocratic British family, she lived a sheltered early life. During her student years at the Slade School of Art, she associated with the Bloomsbury group. Among the people she met was novelist D. H. Lawrence, and it was at his invitation that she moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1924. She remained there for the rest of her life, becoming an American citizen in 1938. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Brett

Her work can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., in the Millicent Rogers Museum and the Harwood Museum of Art, both in Taos, at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico and in many private collections. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Brett

painting Overall: 24 x 11 15/16 in. (60.9 x 30.3 cm)
Untitledc. 1950Malcolm Brown
Malcolm Brown
Malcolm Brown was active/lived in New Mexico, New Hampshire. Malcolm Brown is known for Modernist landscape painting.
painting Overall: 13 3/4 x 24 in. (35 x 61 cm)