The 1940s were a pivotal decade for the Taos Art Community.
The arrival of a group of modernist artists would chart a new artistic course for a generation of painters.
In the years after World War II, Taos would become 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, and further afield, found Taos a conducive place to work devoid of the distractions of the big cities. Many of these artists arrived in Taos with little if any knowledge of the earlier artists, drawn to the Town’s inherently creative atmosphere and of course, the extraordinary light. Several in fact, came to study here under the G.I. bill.
Andrew Dasburg, Thomas Benrimo, New York artist Louis Ribak and his wife, painter Beatrice Mandelman, all came here during those years, along with Agnes Martin, the internationally acclaimed artist, who 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. Richard Diebenkorn, although not a Taos resident, showed at the Town’s premier art gallery, Galeria Escondida.
In much 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, including such major figures as Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Clyfford Still and Morris Graves.
The influx of dozens of artists by the 1950s 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 became 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 or non-objective compositions of pure form. The stark New Mexico landscape influenced their palettes (and their paintings), as it had done with earlier artists who had come here to work.
Cultural influences impacted their work as well; the timelessness of Pueblo Indian culture and the deep connection to the land they observed in both the Native and Hispanic Cultures, impacted their work.
Seeking the new, yet influenced by the timelessness of the landscape, these artists moved beyond figurative art, they were part of a growing movement of artists attempting to see behind the “sight” of things.
The Galley collaborates frequently with The Harwood Museum here in Taos and has developed a reputation of being one of the finest in town.
Before opening 203. Eric Andrews and Shaun Richel (both painters themselves) opened a small Gallery Space on the High Road after moving here from Southern California. For a time, Eric worked for Robert Parsons as his Gallery Director, before deciding to go it alone with 203 Fine Art.
This weekend America Martin’s “New Works” opens at 203 on Saturday (from 4 – 7pm).
The Gallery is located at the corner of Ledoux Street and for much more about Eric, Shaun and the works they exhibit, please visit their link below this post (and their beautiful gallery, when next you are in town).
All images care of 203 Fine Art
Yellow-Pitcher-Blue-Cloth-and-Fruit by America Martin