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The Taos Society of Artists

February 6, 2009 - April 26, 2009

The Taos Society of Artists was formed in the summer of 1915 by a group of academically-trained painters who had come to the town from various points in eastern and Midwestern states. The six founding members of the society were Oscar Berninghaus, Ernest Blumenschein, Eanger Irving Couse, William Herbert Dunton, Bert Geer Phillips, and Joseph Henry Sharp. Taos was isolated, yet accessible via railroad and automobile or stagecoach. Moreover, its combination of unique natural beauty and Native American inhabitants was an attractive antidote to the established subjects found in art centers on the east coast.

The Taos Society not only painted the landscape and local scenes, but organized exhibitions of their works that traveled to major urban centers. In this way, their work contributed to an increasing tourist interest in the southwest that continues today. The Society saw its greatest exposure in 1918, and despite the addition of new members such as Kenneth Adams, E. Martin Hennings, Victor Higgins, and Walter Ufer among others, the group disbanded in 1927.

Among the important contributions of the Taos Society of Artists is that they were the first painters to vividly introduce the formerly obscure Taos region to eastern audiences. As painters, they established the subjects and styles to which many regional artists have since adhered.