Snite Museum of Art

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN



Taos Artists and Their Patrons: 1898 - 1950

August 29, 1999 - November 14, 1999  


The Snite Museum of Art is pleased to announce the exhibition of Taos Artists and Their Patrons: 1898-1950, a major exhibition that focuses on the art produced in the northern New Mexico community. Important paintings created in Taos, New Mexico up to 1950 are featured in this exhibition -- the most ambitious to date for the Snite Museum. The exhibition and accompanying book are the first major study to examine the widely diverse forms of patronage that made it possible for artists to live and work in Taos, far from the nation's art centers. The exhibition and book commemorate the founding of the Taos art colony in 1898, and, more importantly, using a unique approach, examine the achievements of those individuals and organizations that supported the artists -- the patrons.

The exhibition identifies many kinds of patronage, including individual, corporate, commercial, community, governmental, spousal, and collegial. In no place did the relationships between artists and their patrons play a more pivotal role in American artists' economic and creative survival during the first half of the twentieth century than in the remote mountain community of Taos. (right: Walter Ufer (1876-1936), Taos Women, 1917, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches, Gift of Walter and William Klauer and Families, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 60.18.5)

The stories of patronage of Taos artists often are amazing, sometimes poignant. Tales of manipulation, the compromise of artistic integrity, the loss of free expression, and downright abuse suffered by some artists because of their dire need of an insensitive patron's financial support, stand in sharp contrast to stories of more fortunate painters who were nurtured and sustained by their relationships with sympathetic patrons.

The Taos artists attracted important corporate patrons such as the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company, whose extensive corporate art collection -- the first in the United States -- featured work by Taos and other Southwest artists. The artists also formed relationships with the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Stark Museum of Art in Orange, Texas; the McNay Museum in San Antonio; the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe; and others. (right: Victor Higgins (1884-1949), Mountain Farm, c.1935, watercolor, 16 x 23 inches, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 81.22)

Heading these institutions were the patrons, whose support was critical, for they acquired art for their museums' collections and bestowed their own and their museums' resources on favored artists. Private patrons, such as William H. Klauer, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and Ed and Faye Davidson of Wichita, Kansas, built important collections of Taos art while offering many Taos painters their friendship and loyalty -- invaluable forms of patronage for artists facing the uncertainties of the art market. Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., honored several Taos artists by trekking to Taos in the 1920s to buy their work. (left: Victor Higgins (1884-1949), New Mexico Skies, c. 1935, 54 x 56 inches, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 63.53.3)

The exhibition is organized by The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, and is being shown at five locations: The Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, OK: May 16 - July 18, 1998), The Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, IN: August 29 - November 14, 1999), The Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ: December 18 - March 5, 2000), The Albuquerque Museum (Albuquerque, NM: April 16 - August 6, 2000), and the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, TX: September 12 - December 3, 2000).

The exhibition features 85 works in all media by artists such as John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, William Victor Higgins, and Walter Ufer. Notable works include the following paintings: Robert Henri's Dieguito Drummer and Marsden Hartley's El Santo from the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe; Victor Higgins's Winter Funeral from the Harwood Foundation and, Taos, New Mexico; Walter Ufer's Hunger from The Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma; as well as Ufer's Their Audience from The Snite Museum of Art; and Ernest Martin Hennings's Announcements from The Pennnsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and Ernest L. Blumenschein's Taos Valley from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (right: Victor Higgins (1884-1949), Rain at Hondo, c. 1935, 17 1/4 x 22 1/4 inches, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 80.154)

The publication accompanying the exhibition is a 400-page book/exhibition catalogue entitled Taos Artists and Their Patrons: 1898-1950. It was produced through the collaborative efforts of three principal authors: Dean A. Porter, Ph.D. (director, The Snite Museum of Art), Teresa Hayes Ebie (curator of Southwestern Art, The Snite Museum of Art, and director, Notre Dame/Taos program), and Suzan Campbell (independent scholar, Santa Fe). Taos Artists and Their Patrons may be ordered through the University of New Mexico Press (800-249-7737) or through The Snite Museum of Art gift shop (219) 631-7961.

In addition to major works from the Snite Museum, other institutions lending works to this exhibition include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, The Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, The J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, The Harwood Museum of Taos, The Phoenix Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., The National Academy of Design in New York, and The Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York.

Major benefactors for this exhibition are: Kathleen and Mark E. Watson, Jr., Mary and N. L. "Bud" Swinson, Maureen and R. Stephen Lehman, D.D.S., Patricia and Robert W. Cox, Kathleen and Richard Champlin, Joan and James Bock, Julie and William C. Ballard, Jr., Milann and Ray Siegfried, and John Hrycko and Dowagiac Commercial Press. The Snite Museum presentation of Taos Artist and Their Patrons 1898 - 1950 is generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Decio.

Read about the Taos Society of Artists from the Van Vechten-Lineberry Taos Art Museum and the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Read more about the Snite Museum of Art in Resource Library.

rev. 10/15/06


Resource Library editor's note:

Readers may also enjoy The Couse Foundation.

On October 6 - 13, 2006 Barbara Hazeltine photographed homes and studios of early Taos artists.