Exhibition Details

Location: Steele Gallery
Dates: March 15, 2009
to June 14, 2009


Phoenix Art Museum celebrates the career of one of the most successful American artists of the early 20th century with the opening of In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein. A founder of the famed Taos Society of Artists, Blumenschein rocketed into the spotlight with his modernist approach to capturing the American West. This major retrospective, on view March 15 through June 14, 2009, covers every aspect of the artist’s career and is the first Blumenschein exhibition in 30 years and the first in Arizona.

The exhibition follows Blumenschein’s life, tracking the artistic, social and political dimensions of his art. It features his major landscape and figural paintings of the Southwest, for which he is best known today, as well as early works from the beginning of his career when he worked in France and as a professional illustrator. As Blumenschein developed as an artist, he also formed a stance on social issues that included pictorial testimonials of the cultural identity of the native people of Taos and respect for their lands.

Blumenschein landed in Taos, New Mexico, as the result of a fortunate accident. He was traveling with fellow artist Bert G. Phillips on a sketching trip from Denver to northern Mexico when a wheel of their carriage broke, leaving them stranded in Taos Valley. The delay gave the artists time to take in the spectacular countryside and interesting cultures of the area. They decided to stay and work in the area, later founding the Taos Society of Artists to promote the splendor of Taos and the art of the American West to larger audiences.

Academically trained in New York and Paris, Blumenschein painted in a style that combined traditional and realistic means of expression with subtle undercurrents of modernism, particularly in his bold use of color and the manner in which he constructed his compositions. In addition to founding the Taos Society of Artists (1915-27), Blumenschein’s interests in modernism also led him to establish the New Mexico Painters (1923-27), one of the region’s earliest groups of modernist painters. At the height of his career, he was one of the few artists to have paintings purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Related Events

The Great American Soundscape, May 16, Noon
The Musician Behind the Artist, June 6, 2pm

Lectures & Talks
Blumenschein: A Painter Between Worlds, March 24, 7pm
Double Vision: The Life and Work of Ernest Blumenschein, April 7, 7pm
Blumenschein and Modernism, May 19, 7pm
Collection Connections, multiple dates
Portraying Native Cultures, April 21, 7pm

PhxArtKids Days
Desert Scene Weaving, May 9, Noon – 3pm

Prints that Rock!, April 14, 6:30pm

Workshops & Other
Book Covers: Every Bloomin’ Thing, April 21, 6pm
Mother Nature, Father Time, February 19, March 5, 19, April 2 & 16
Get Real: Maximizing Reality with Color Pencils, April 18 & 19, 10am – 4pm

This exhibition is organized by Phoenix Art Museum, in collaboration with the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the Denver Art Museum. This exhibition has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.Major support for this exhibition is provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., The Henry Luce Foundation, APS, J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, The Ruddock Family Foundation, the Museum’s Western Art Associates, Carol Whiteman, A.J. Dickey, the Virginia G. Piper Exhibition Endowment Fund, and the Don and Arlene Tostenrud Fund for American Art.

Promotional support for this exhibition has been provided by The Arizona Republic, Clear Channel Radio Phoenix, Cox Communications, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, PBS/Channel 8, and Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, and Scottsdale Public Libraries.

In Contemporary Rhythm, sponsor listing

Image Credits

Left: Haystack, Taos Valley, prior to 1927, reworked 1940, Oil on canvas, 24 x 27 inches, Courtesy of Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Norman; Given in memory of Roxanne P. Thams by William H. Thams, 2003 Center: The Chief Goes Through, 1956, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, Courtesy of Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas; 31.30/9. Right: Star Road and White Sun, 1920, Oil on canvas, 42 x 51 inches, Courtesy of The Albuquerque Museum, Museum purchase, 1985 General Obligation Bonds, Albuquerque High School Collection, Gift of classes 1943, 1944, and 1945; 1986.50.3