Andrew Dasburg


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Painter and draftsman. A contributor to adventurous color abstraction of the 1910s, he built his mature reputation on landscapes, still lifes, and portraits combining acute observation with structural techniques learned from the work of Cézanne and the cubists. Born in Paris, Andrew Michael Dasburg lived for three years in Germany before he arrived in New York in 1892. He was later naturalized as a U.S. citizen. In 1902 he began his formal studies at the Art Students League, where Kenyon Cox numbered among his teachers. He also studied with Robert Henri. During the several years following a 1909–10 sojourn in France, he pushed cubism close to pure abstraction in a few particularly daring works. He also made a brief detour into a form of color abstraction related to synchromism. In 1916 Dasburg abandoned his colorful expressionistic modernism to begin forging a personal style reinvigorating the classical tradition as received through Cézanne. Typically, warmth of tone and a deft touch animate the rigorously structured, pared down New Mexican Village (Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, 1926). In spare landscape drawings of the 1950s and 1960s, he pushed rigorously toward formal essentials and expressive marking, approaching aspects of contemporary abstract expressionism. Between 1906 and the late 1920s, Dasburg regularly worked at Woodstock. After extended visits to the Southwest beginning in 1918, he settled permanently in Taos in 1930. With a discerning eye for unconventional expression, Dasburg figured importantly in popularizing American Indian art and instrumentally in bringing attention to John Kane. At his death, he was thought to be the last surviving exhibitor in the Armory Show. His first wife, a financially independent, freethinking “New Woman,” sculptor Grace Mott Johnson (1882–1967), born in New York, studied at the Art Students League primarily with Gutzon Borglum, but worked also with Hermon MacNeil and James Earle Fraser. She and Dasburg married in London in 1909, on a side trip from France, but divorced in 1922. A specialist in animal subjects, she, too, exhibited in the Armory Show and participated in Woodstock activities. Although she visited Dasburg in New Mexico, she never resided there. Later among the earliest agitators for the civil rights of African Americans, she became relatively inactive as an artist during the final two decades of her life. From 1922 until 1928, Dasburg lived with sculptor, painter, and theater professional Ida Rauh (1877–1970), another feminist, who had been married from 1911 until 1922 to Max Eastman, crusading editor of The Masses and, subsequently, The Liberator.

Subjects: Art.

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