Artist Biography

Andrew Dasburg

(1887 - 1979)

Table of Contents

    Pioneer of early American Modernism known for Cubist-inspired Southwestern landscapes

    By Eve Perry

    Andrew Dasburg, a pre-eminent figure in the Taos art community of the 1920s and 30s, infused his vibrant Southwestern landscapes with Picasso and Cézanne-inspired abstractions.

    I. Biography

    Andrew Dasburg was born in Paris in 1887, and at the age of five moved to New York with his mother. Having suffered a debilitating hip injury that left him permanently disabled, Dasburg was required to attend a school for crippled children. Dasburg’s art teacher recognized his potential as an artist and brought him to morning classes at the Art Students League where he studied painting under Kenyon Cox. Later he took classes with Robert Henri at the New York School of Art. In 1906, he spent his first summer painting landscapes near Woodstock, New York under the auspices of the Art Students League landscape painting scholarship. He was taught by Birge Harrison who instructed students in techniques for rendering romantic landscapes. Dasburg resisted the lyrical style of his instructor, instead favoring a more progressive approach to art-making.

    Dasburg traveled to Europe in 1909 where he was introduced to the foremost figures in early twentieth century modernism, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and visited an exhibition of work by Paul Cézanne at Vollard’s gallery in Paris. The trip would prove critical in the development of Dasburg’s oeuvre which shows a consistent influence of Fauvism, Cubism, and especially the paintings of Paul Cézanne. In 1910, he returned to the United States and for the next few years lived and worked in Woodstock. He spent his summers teaching, and in 1912 spent part of the summer painting on Monhegan Island, Maine with friend George Bellows.

    Dasburg contributed three paintings and one sculpture to the Armory Show, an exhibition of leading modernists from Europe and the United States. The show greatly impacted Dasburg, inspiring him to pursue a greater degree of abstraction in his paintings. Working in close association with the painter Konrad Cramer, Dasburg produced a series of Kandinsky-esque paintings he called Improvisation which featured bold abstract forms that bore little resemblance to the natural scenes on which they were based. By 1916, his interest in near-complete abstraction had waned. Around this time, his mature style came into being wherein he merged Cubist and Cézanne-inspired abstractions with a more representational portrayal of his subjects.

    Dasburg made his first trip to Taos, New Mexico in 1918 which kindled his life-long fascination with the native arts and the mountains, desert plains and villages of the region. Beginning in 1920, and for eight years thereafter, Dasburg spent part of his year in New Mexico drawing the local scenery. The rest of the year was spent in Woodstock creating paintings based on the New Mexico drawings. With the Southwest landscape as his muse, Dasburg’s work became highly personal, conveying the artist’s view of the essential power of nature. The Arts magazine featured Dasburg in a 1924 article which described his work from this era: “Dasburg’s landscapes have the authenticity of the place embodied within them condensed as much as possible, and are to be numbered undoubtedly among his best pictures.” Dasburg made New Mexico his permanent home in 1929.

    The first retrospective of Dasburg’s work was mounted at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1957. Regarded as one of the pre-eminent figures of the Taos community of artists, the governor of New Mexico honored Dasburg with a solo exhibition at Santa Fe’s capitol building in 1975. Dasburg died in Talpa, New Mexico in 1979. A memorial exhibition, planned in advance of his death, was mounted at University of New Mexico, and over the course of two years traveled to several museums throughout the West.

    II. Chronology

    • 1887 Born May 4 in Paris, France
    • 1892 Emigrated with mother to New York City; hip-injury left him handicapped for life
    • 1894 Began attending school for crippled children
    • 1902 Enrolled part-time at Art Students League
    • 1904 Began classes with Robert Henri at New York School of Art
    • 1907 Studied at Art Students League with Gutzon Borglum and Kenyon Cox. Attended first of two (possibly three) Art Students League summer sessions in Woodstock, New York under instruction of Birge Harrison. Met fellow summer session student Charles Morgan Russell.
    • 1909 Won first prize at exhibition of summer session students at Art Students League
    • Members’ room. Studied at Boston Museum School. Traveled to Europe with artist Grace Mott Johnson and Russell; Johnson and Dasburg married in London.
    • 1910 Shared studio in Paris with friend Roland Moser. Viewed paintings by Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in Paris. Met Picasso at home of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Visited studio of Henri Matisse. Returned to US, lived with mother and aunt in Wurtsboro, New York
    • 1911 Son Alfred born in Yonkers
    • 1913 Painted at Monhegan Island, Maine with George Bellows
    • 1917 Taught art in Woodstock and at New York City studio
    • 1918 First visit to Taos, New Mexico; visited Mabel Sterne from January-May
    • 1919 Began teaching summer courses for Art Students League in Woodstock
    • 1922 Divorce finalized with Grace Johnson. Moved in with Ida Rauh in Santa Fe
    • 1923 Article by Dasburg, “Cubism—Its Rise and Influence” published in Arts
    • 1925 Won second prize at Pan American exhibition in Los Angeles. First solo show at Whitney Studio Club. Visited Hopi of northern Arizona to learn Indian arts and crafts
    • 1927 Served on jury and won third prize at Carnegie International Exhibition
    • 1928 Married Nancy Lane in New York
    • 1929 Moved to New Mexico permanently
    • 1931 Participates in Whitney Museum of American Art’s first biennial of contemporary
    • American painting
    • 1932 Awarded Guggenheim fellowship to study mural painting in Mexico but resigned
    • after a few months. Divorce finalized with Nancy Lane
    • 1933 Married Marina Wister in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Organized artists to protest
    • destruction of Diego Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center
    • 1934 Included in Whitney Museum of American Art’s first biennial of contemporary
    • American sculpture, watercolor and prints. Featured in Time article on American
    • regional painters
    • 1936 Dasburg’s article “Coming of Age” published in Art Digest
    • 1937 Hospitalized with Addison’s disease in Albuquerque; mural installed at Colorado
    • Springs Fine Arts Center
    • 1944 Invited to participate in biannual drawing show at Los Angeles County Museum of
    • Art
    • 1955 Hospitalized for stroke
    • 1957 Dallas Museum of Fine Art mounted Dasburg retrospective
    • 1959 Awarded ten thousand dollar grant from Ford Foundation. Ford Foundation funded traveling exhibition of his work, organized by the American Federation of Arts
    • 1966 University of New Mexico organized traveling exhibition of his drawings
    • 1974 First of two commissions from Tamarind Institute for lithograph series
    • 1975 Solo exhibition mounted at the Governor’s Gallery, State Capitol, Santa Fe upon request of governor
    • 1979 Died in Talpa, New Mexico. Memorial exhibition, planned in advance of his death, was mounted at University of New Mexico, traveled to several museums throughout the West until 1981.

    III. Collections

    • Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, MO
    • Cincinnati Art Museum, OH
    • Dallas Museum of Fine Art, TX
    • Denver Art Museum, CO
    • Figge Art Museum, IO
    • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
    • Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, TX
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
    • Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
    • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MO
    • Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM
    • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
    • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
    • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Wash. D.C.
    • Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Wash. D.C.
    • University of Kansas, Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, KS
    • University of Oklahoma, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, OK
    • University of Nebraska, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, NE
    • University of New Mexico, Harwood Museum of Art, NM
    • Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
    • Woodstock Art Museum, NY

    IV. Exhibitions

    • 1912 National Arts Club, New York; MacDowell Club, New York
    • 1913 Armory Show; MacDowell Club, New York
    • 1914 National Arts Club, New York
    • 1915 MacDowell Club, New York
    • 1916 Gamut Club, New York; Forum Exhibition, New York; Montross Gallery,
    • New York
    • 1916-41 Corcoran Galleries
    • 1919 American Exhibition, Luxembourg Museum
    • 1920 Florence Gallery, New York
    • 1925 Pan American exhibition, Whitney Studio Club, solo
    • 1927 Carnegie International Exhibition
    • 1928 California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
    • 1929 Art Institute of Chicago
    • 1931 Rehn Galleries, New York (solo); San Diego Gallery of Fine Arts; City Art
    • Museum of St. Louis; Carnegie International Exhibition; Whitney Museum
    • of American Art
    • 1932-35 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
    • 1933 Whitney Museum of American Art
    • 1934 Philadelphia Art Alliance; Indiana State Teachers College, Terre Haute
    • 1935 Whitney Museum of American Art
    • 1936 Art Institute of Chicago; Boyer Gallery, Philadelphia
    • 1939 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; Witte Museum, San Antonio
    • 1943 Oakland Art Gallery
    • 1944 Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    • 1957 Dallas Museum of Fine Art (retrospective)
    • 1959 American Federation Arts-Ford Foundation (retrospective)
    • 1945 Oakland Art Gallery
    • 1948 Oakland Art Gallery
    • 1954 Alexandre Rabow Galleries, San Francisco
    • 1975 Governor’s Gallery, State Capitol, Santa Fe; Delaware Art Museum
    • 1977 Mission Gallery, Taos (solo); New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts
    • 1978 Whitney Museum of American Art, traveled to Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Des Moines Art Center, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Syracuses’s Everson Museum of Art, and the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts
    • 1979-81 Art Museum of the University of New Mexico (solo), traveled to Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute in San Antonio, University of Texas Art Museum, Amarillo Art Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Nebraska, the Denver Art Museum, and the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts)

    V. Memberships

    • American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
    • New Mexico Painters
    • Taos Art Association
    • Woodstock Art Association

    VI. Notes

    Alexander Brook, “Andrew Dasburg,” The Arts 6 (1924): 19-26.

    VII. Suggested Resources

    • Bell, Barbara G. Modernist themes in New Mexico: works by early modernist painters (Santa Fe,
    • NM: Gerald Peters Gallery, c. 1989).

    • Brook, Alexander. “Andrew Dasburg,” The Arts 6 (1924): 19-26.

    • Coke, Van Deren. Andrew Dasburg (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979).

    • Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Andrew Dasburg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, c. 1957).

    • Dasburg, Andrew. “Cubism: Its Rise and Influence,” The Arts (1923): 278-84.

    • Dasburg, Andrew, Gerald P Peters and Gerald Peters Gallery. Spirited visions : the art of Andrew
    • Dasburg (1887-1979) (Santa Fe, NM: Gerald Peters Gallery, 1999).

    • Levin, Gail, “Andrew Dasburg: Recollections of the Avant-Garde,” Arts Magazine 52, no.
    • 10 (June 1978): 126-30.

    • Nelson, Mary Carroll, “Andrew Dasburg: Taos Maverick,” American Artist 43, no. 441
    • (April 1979): 64-69, 112-15.

    • Reich, Sheldon. Andrew Dasburg: his life and art (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press;
    • London: Associated University Presses, c. 1989).

    • Shnakenberg, H. E. “Andrew Dasburg,” The Arts 7 (1925): 168.

    • University of New Mexico Andrew Art Museum. Dasburg, 1887-1979 (Albuquerque: Art
    • Museum, College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico, 1979).

    • University of New Mexico, Art Museum. Drawings of Andrew Dasburg. (Albuquerque:
    • University Art Museum, College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico, 1966).

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