Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for the Taos Art Colony. A-Z Challenge

Taos Art Colony (2015:  100 Year Anniversary of the Taos Society of Artists)

E. L. Blumenschein, B.G. Phillips, J.H. Sharp. and E.I Couse, 1912. 

In 1915, 6 artists decided to form a group, an alliance of sorts, called the Taos Society of Artists in Taos, New Mexico.

The story begins in 1894 when three American artists became friends while studying at the Academie Julian in Paris.  Joseph Sharp, had told them about his earlier travels in Taos in 1893, and how the landscapes, the native peoples, the light and the dry climate had intrigued him.  Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein  were interested and they envisioned creating "Real American Art," based on American imagery and Native American Symbolism.

Back in the United States, Phillips and Blumenschein decided to head West.  A broken wagon wheel outside of Taos, delayed them and they discovered all that Sharp had described.  Phillips stayed, Blumenschein visited annually, Sharp made it his home in 1908.

By 1915, the six founding members, Joseph Henry Sharp, Ernest L. Blumenschein, W. Herbert Dunton, E. Irving Couse, Bert G. Phillips, and Oscar Bernhaus, settled in after founding the Taos Society of Artists.

They built small homes, rustic in style, near one another and shared their work, and critiques.  Daily life in Taos was simple, no electricity or indoor plumbing.  But they were friends and supported each other.  Dinners, dancing, card games, music, informal gatherings with families and children who became part of the scene.

What held the group together was the business of art. By now the group had grown to twelve members.  The main focus of the group was promoting their art. Not many visitors to Taos which was not easily accessible, so the group arranged traveling exhibits, showed at galleries and museums outside of New Mexico and around the country.

By the 1920's, most members had national reputations, won national competitions and were successful. But by 1927, realizing that the Taos Society of Artists had outlived their usefulness, they disbanded.

But that did not mean the end of the colony, all of the members continued to live and work in Taos.  (To be continued. . .) 


  1. I've heard of the Taos art colony. New Mexico has always attracted a more arty type crowd, in Taos and Santa Fe. I hope to visit them someday.

  2. Hi Nat - first I hope you're feeling better .. I wanted to have time to read this .. and I hope you've been able to put up part 2 ... it's like the Newlyn School of art - a tiny village outside Penzance .. where a small group start out and the 'school' develops ... fascinating to read .. and thanks for the link across to their page.

    Cheers Hilary