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Taos is New Mexico True
A group photo of the Taos Society of Artists
Array ( [ID] => 38717 [url] => https://taos.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/header_society_of_artists_group_photo-1920x350.jpg [alt] => A group photo of the Taos Society of Artists ) 1

People have been making art in Taos for hundreds of years. But it’s unlikely that Taos would be one of the premier art destinations in the American Southwest today without the contribution of six early 20th century artists. These six men launched the Taos Society of Artists and set Taos on a course that continues in the creative spirit of the town today.

The movement began when Joseph Henry Sharp first visited Taos in 1893, drawn by the magnificent high mountain light and captivated by the people of Taos Pueblo and the landscape they lived in. He was followed five years later by artists Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips, who planned to stay in Taos only a short time but were waylaid by a broken wagon wheel. By the time the wheel had been fixed, Blumenschein and Phillips were so enamored of Taos that they sold their horse and wagon and decided to stay a while.

Bert Geer Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein with a Broken Wagon Wheel
While waiting to have their broken wagon wheel repaired, Bert Geer Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein became enchanted with Taos.

“In just a few weeks I had found more material and inspiration for creative work than I could use in a lifetime, “ wrote Bert Phillips of those early days in Taos. “One artist alone could do no more than scratch the surface in this one spot, while the Great Southwest—an artistic empire—was yet practically undiscovered country to the art world.” Thus is was that word began to spread of this unexplored trove of artistic inspiration to be found high in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

In July of 1915, Sharp, Blumenschein, Phillips, and three other artists—E. Irving Couse, Oscar E. Berninghaus, and W. Herbert Dunton—formed the Taos Society of Artists. These “Taos Six” were later joined by a further six artists, five men and one woman: Catharine C. Critcher, E. Martin Hennings, Julius Rolshoven, Kenneth Adams, Victor Higgins, and Walter Ufer.

Group photo of the Taos Society of Artists
Taos Society of Artists Founding Members (left to right): B.G. Phillips, W.H. Dunton, J.H. Sharp, O.E. Berninghaus, E.I. Couse and E.L. Blumenschein, 1915

The style of art embraced by the Taos Society of Artists was motivated by a desire to faithfully, if romantically, represent the people and landscapes of the Southwest. Many of the artists had studied in Europe, and although the influence of this training was perceptible in their works, their collective artistic character developed into a truly American school of painting.

The work of the Taos Society artists embodied a very specific—and unique—time and place. Through this work, the artists shared the wonder of Taos’ beauty and culture with the nation and the world, drawing more artists and art lovers to the area every year. Although the society existed only from 1915 to 1927, later artists built on the growing reputation of Taos as an art colony to create their own expressions of Taos’ people and landscape; the Taos art scene has been constantly growing and evolving ever since.

Today, there are numerous opportunities to learn more about the Taos Society artists and view their work at the many museums of Taos.

The Harwood Museum of Art

Harwood Museum Exterior

The Taos Society of Artists was still in existence when the Harwood was founded in 1923. The museum’s history is intricately entwined with Taos’ artistic heritage and remains today a premier spot for viewing works by Taos Society artists. The Harwood’s permanent collection contains works by members of the original Taos Six as well as other wonderful early 20th century Taos artists, like Victor Higgins, Juan Tafiho Mirabal, and Walter Ufer. The Harwood’s website also features a searchable database of their permanent collection and archives so works of the Taos Society of Artists can be viewed online.

Address

238 Ledoux St
Taos, NM 87571
(575) 758-9826

Museum Hours

Wednesday – Sunday:
11am – 5pm

Closed:
Monday – Tuesday


Couse-Sharp Historic Site

Couse Sharp Historic Site Exterior

The home of Taos Six member E.I. Couse, who served as the Taos Society of Artists’ first president, the Couse-Sharp Historic Site is an illuminating glimpse into Taos’ artistic past. Visitors can view Couse’s home and studio as well as his son’s fascinating workshop and beautiful gardens design by Couse’s wife, Virginia. The studio of fellow Taos Society Artist Joseph Henry Sharp is also on the property as is an atmospheric chapel dating to 1835, often the site of rotating exhibitions. The Lunder Research Center, adjacent to the historic site, is a treasure trove of materials pertaining to the Taos Society artists. The collection includes original works of art, correspondence, photographs, ethnographic items, and much more.

Address

138 and 146 Kit Carson Road
Taos, NM 87571
(575) 751-0369

Museum Hours

2-hour tours by appointment Mon–Sat

Gallery hours Tue–Sat 1pm–5pm for exhibitions when installed


E.L. Blumenschein Home & Museum

Blumenschein Home Exterior

Another opportunity to view the former home of a Taos Society artist much as it was when the family lived there. The collection includes artworks and antiques collected by the Blumenschein family as well as works by Blumenschein and his wife, Mary, also a wonderful artist, and other Taos Society artists. Parts of the home date back to 1797.

Address

222 Ledoux Street
Taos, NM 87571
(575) 758-0505

Museum Hours

Open Mon, Tues, Friday and Saturday 10am-4pm. Sunday Noon – 4pm


Taos Art Museum at Fechin House

Taos Art Museum at Fechin House Exterior

Nikolai Fechin, although not a member of the Taos Society of Artists, was instrumental in building Taos’ reputation as an art colony. Born in Russia, Fechin and his family moved to Taos in 1927, acquiring and remodeling the property now known as the Fechin House. Although Fechin lived in Taos for only six years, he produced a large body of work in that time, turning his world-renowned talents as a portrait artist to the people of Taos Pueblo. The Taos Art Museum, housed in Fechin’s home and studio, has a large permanent collection of Fechin’s work as well as works by Taos Society artists.

Address

227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Taos, New Mexico 87571
(575) 758-2690

Museum Hours

April – October
Tuesday – Sunday, 11pm – 5pm

​November – March
Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm-4pm