Taos was New Mexico's premier art colony and the first significant art colony in the American West. Founders were Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips who were on a painting expedition together when their carriage broke down in the vicinity of Taos in 1898.
Awed by the beauty of the mountains and intrigued by the Taos Pueblo Indian and Hispanic cultures, Phillips and Blumenschein settled in Taos and encouraged other artists to join them. Many of the artists who painted in Taos before 1940 had actually met and studied together in Paris. In addition to Blumenschein and Phillips, artists featured in this exhibit who studied in Paris before moving to Taos include Eanger Couse, Leon Gaspard, and Joseph Imhof. Walter Ufer, Nicolai Fechin, and Leon Gaspard, had been trained in other European academies in Germany and Russia. Many of these artists also knew each other from the Art Institute of Chicago and were sponsored by the Mayor of Chicago, Carter Harrison, who commissioned the artists to travel to Taos in order to capture the Southwest subject matter in their artwork.
In 1915, six pre-1940 artists formed a group called The Taos Society of Artists, also known as the Taos Six. The six founding members were Joseph Henry Sharp, Eanger Irving Couse, Oscar E. Berninghaus, W. Herbert Dunton, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips with Couse serving as the society’s first president. Over the next several years, the organization grew to become one of the best-known art colonies in America. A chief sponsor of the Taos artist colony was the Santa Fe Railroad whose officials purchased many of the paintings and used reproductions as promotional pieces to lure travelers to the West via the Santa Fe.
For more information about these works, artists and donors, scroll through each image below.
Kristi Kohl, Archives Specialist
Second Floor Display Case