Cady Wells (1904-1954)


Not until his late twenties did Cady Wells, born Henry Cady Wells in 1904, decide to become an artist. After a comfortable youth in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Wells studied and traveled widely, pursuing interests in music and the visual arts. As a gay young man, he was sent by his family at age 22 to Mesa, Arizona, to the Evans School Ranch for Boys, which was designed to give eastern young men a college preparatory education in a western ranch lifestyle environment.

In 1932, Wells arrived in New Mexico and almost immediately fell under the influence of Andrew Dasburg, who became his mentor for the next several years. Portraying the Southwestern landscape in watercolor, Wells moved through various modernist idioms. His early work incorporated gestural, calligraphic lines suggestive of Chinese ideograms. Later, he investigated the structure of natural forms and the pattern-like appearance of the landscape.

Influenced by Dasburg, Raymond Jonson, and Georgia O'Keeffe, Wells developed a personal semi-abstract style that brought considerable praise from his peers. He also deserves recognition for donating his extensive collection of Santos to the Museum of New Mexico. At Wells's recommendation, E. Boyd—who had originally invited Wells to New Mexico—became the museum's first curator of Spanish colonial art. He exhibited regularly with the Rio Grande painters and at the Museum of New Mexico.

The Second World War interrupted his professional career. He enlisted in the Engineers a year before Pearl Harbor and spent over four years in service. After the war, he returned to France where he developed depth and form in his art, paying particular attention to the works of Roualt, Matisse, and Picasso. His own artistic work, however, led him along completely different paths.

Wells passed away from heart failure in November, 1954.

Photograph of Adeine de La Noe in adobe home


Smithsonian Museum

New Mexico Museum of Art

portrait of Cady Wells
Schools of Study

Evans School Ranch for Boys, AZ, 1926

Apprenticeship under Andrew Dasburg, 1932

Partial List of Collections

Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

New Mexico Museum of Art, NM

Amon Carter Museum of American Art, TX

Denver Art Museum, CO

National Museum of American Art-Smithsonian, D.C.

Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM

Harwood Museum of Art, NM

Phoenix Art Museum, AZ

San Diego Museum of Art, CA

Selected Exhibitions

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, NM

The Philbrook Museum of Art, OK

New Mexico Museum of Art, NM

LewAllen Galleries, NM

Harwood Museum, NM

Selected Works in Our Inventory